Capitol Visitor Center Exterior

The most unusual aspect of the Capitol Visitor Center is that it lies entirely below ground on the east side of the Capitol. Putting the new facility beneath the east plaza was considered to be the best way to render such a large structure invisible and thus preserve the views to the Capitol and respect its historic landscape setting. Slight modifications to existing walkways were necessary to lead the visitor down to the center's entrance, and along with two new elevator pavilions, six new skylights, and new granite paving, were some of the few above-ground modifications made to the site. While construction was under way, the opportunity was also taken to restore the 19th century fountains, walks, benches, and lighting that were part of the landscape improvements designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in the 1870s.