U.S. Capitol Visitor Center

Your Guide
Liz Guthrie, ASLA

The United States Capitol Visitors Center is located on the east side of the U.S. Capitol, at 1st Street and East Capitol Street, SE. Entirely redesigned and completed in 2008 after an extensive renovation, the Visitor’s Center provides improved access and a more cohesive circulation experience, with enhanced security and screening features built in for the Capitol. The designers honored the original landscape plans designed by Frederick Law Olmsted by locating 95 percent of the visitor center building footprint below the paved areas to preserve existing plantings. 

The site, which elegantly merges historic and naturalistic features with a series of modern improvements, is divided into an upper and lower level and extends the physical axis of East Capitol Street in a wide pedestrian entrance, providing a more seamless connection between the Capitol and the surrounding neighborhood, including the Supreme Court and Library of Congress one block to the east.

Photo opportunities abound here. The designers, which include RTKL and Sasaki Associates, took care to preserve the excellent views. Catch the historic details of the restored seating, fountains, and lighting. Or find a shady spot under one of the many old and revered trees and admire the majestic scale and beauty of the Capitol dome and surrounding landscape.

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