The Rotunda renovation moved one step closer to completion as workers spent part of the summer tackling the next challenge: painting the roof.

In mid-June, employees with American Stripping Co. of Manassas began buffing and priming before painting.

Over the past 200 years, the Rotunda roof has been painted various hues, including red and white. During the 1976 renovation, white-painted steel panels were placed on the roof to replace the copper; for the current renovation, architects decided to return the roof to its copper origins.

The process isn’t as simple as it may sound. The prepping, priming and painting can be completed only in absolutely dry conditions in temperatures ranging from 60 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 5 degrees above the dew point. The copper also goes through several phases of specific preparation, including being sprayed with leaf blowers each day before work begins. Workers tackled the painting in sections, starting with the top of the dome and moving down.

As the work continues, several students have been able to contribute firsthand and learn about the intricate processes of renovation. Civil engineering major Grace Zammitti (Engr ’15) worked with Facilities Management project managers for two years, shadowing them, contributing to the project and learning their work. Civil engineering student Zachary Robinette (Engr ’15) worked with Facilities Management for a year and third-year architecture student Katharine Graham (Arch ’17) recently joined the team.

“They are support staff for our side and it gives them a chance to learn the real-world side of the business,” says Sarita Herman (Arch ’10), a project manager on the Rotunda renovation. “Their main job is to pay attention and learn. And they can assist in small ways.”