A philanthropist donated the final $7.5 million needed to repair the cracks and chipped stonework atop the Washington Monument caused by the earthquake that rattled the eastern U.S. in August 2011.
National Park Service
|Engineers from Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. conducted an exterior assessment of the monument last fall.|
David M. Rubenstein’s donation places him among the likes of Andrew Mellon, John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Stephen Mather, who have all made significant donations to the National Park System, the National Park Service announced. Rubenstein is the co-founder of The Carlyle Group, a global asset management firm.
| David M. Rubenstein|
“America has been very good to me and I am humbled to be able to honor the father of our country in this way,” said Rubenstein. “Re-opening the monument as soon as possible will help ensure that many people get to learn about American history and the unique role that George Washington played in the birth and life of our great nation.”
The gift matches federal funds approved by Congress in December and completes the funding necessary for the overall repair project.
Recently Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc., the firm hired to inspect the damage, released a post-damage report, detailing the findings of monument damage as observed by its fearless field investigation team last fall. (See Washington Monument Post-Earthquake Assessment.)
National Park Service
|The iconic landmark suffered the heaviest damage in the Pyramidion (point top), between elevations 475 feet and 530 feet.|
Rubenstein’s donation will be made through the Trust for the National Mall, the National Park Service’s philanthropic partner. The trust’s Campaign for the National Mall seeks to raise $350 million over five to seven years towards the $650 million needed to restore the National Mall, the Park Service said.
“On behalf of all Americans, I would like to thank David Rubenstein for his extraordinary gift to repair one of our nation’s most hallowed symbols,” said Deputy Secretary of the Department of Interior David J. Hayes.
The Aug. 23 earthquake damaged both the exterior and interior of the 555-foot-tall Washington Monument, with the heaviest damage in the Pyramidion (point top), between elevations 475 feet and 530 feet, the Park Service said.
The national landmark, built in 1884, has been closed to the public since the seismic event. An earlier Durability + Design news story provided a look at the high-wire investigation work conducted by Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates (WJE) in late September and early October of 2011.
The WJE-led team, secured in mountain-climbing gear and hard hats, scaled the landmark to thoroughly scan each stone for damage.
According to the Post-Earthquake Assessment report, damage to the obelisk includes cracks of up to 1 inch wide in some of the marble blocks, water infiltration as a result of the cracks, spalling of the stones, missing mortar, displaced components of the lightning protection system, and damage to the elevator counter weight frame.
The report also provided some “general” recommendations based on the study, including repairing cracking marble panels; replacing fractured spalling material with new marble Dutchmen; installing stainless-steel plates and anchors to remedy cracks in rib units; repairing damage to elevator components; and other remedies.
The Park Service said it expects to award a contract to repair the monument by August 2012; work is expected to take 10-12 months.
“Millions of people have seen the dramatic video of chunks of mortar and limestone raining down on visitors in the monument as the quake rocked the east coast last August,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “While no one was hurt, the damage to this iconic obelisk was substantial.”