The president’s view: Press gets a peek at the inaugural platform


Carpenters with Universal Builders Supply, Inc. construct the platform on the west terrace of the Capitol. It will seat 1,600 dignitaries and guests, including the president, Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and Cabinet officers. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

The press had a peek at the platform on the west terrace of the Capitol that will become the stage for the 57th presidential inauguration .

And, well, it looks like a platform — but the view is something else.

With a little more than a month to go before President Obama’s inaugural ceremony for a second term, Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who are members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, showed off the grand stage as workers added finishing touches.

The 10,000-square-foot, ivory-colored structure — which is wheelchair-accessible and made entirely of lumber — will seat 1,600 dignitaries and guests, including the president, Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and Cabinet officers.

The seats are arranged stadium-style, giving the feel of an Imax theater whose walls have been removed to allow a spectacular view of the Mall and the District. Bleachers will be constructed behind and above the platform for an additional 1,000 people, including choirs from Brooklyn and Cleveland, Tenn. Design of the platform began a year ago, and construction began in September.

The cost of its construction and the inaugural ceremony itself will be funded by Congress, costing about $1.2 million, Schumer said. That’s less than Congress spent for Obama’s first inauguration, he said.

Obama will be sworn in for a second term in private on Sunday, Jan. 20, as required by the Constitution, and then take the oath in public the following day, coinciding with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Although the King federal holiday may allow some visitors to build a long weekend around the inauguration, few expect the massive crowds that filled Washington for Obama’s historic ceremony four years ago.

Stephen Kerrigan, chief executive of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said this will be the seventh time that a president will take the oath on a Sunday and then repeat the oath for the public. He also assured reporters that there would be news coverage of the private swearing-in ceremony.

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