Nearly two centuries after the structure became the home of the national legislature, the first master plan for the Capitol and the area that abuts it will be distributed today to members of Congress.
The report's recommendations for the next 75 years include suggestions that growth of congressional staffs be limited to no more than double their present size, that new building or expansion be limited to 13 sites, that the Supreme Court building be moved to another location and that extensive reforestation of Capitol Hill should get under way.
It also recommends that the architect of the Capitol be given jurisdiction over the front lawns of some nearby houses, that parking be banned on the East Plaza and that most parking areas be built underground, that a "people mover" be installed between Union Station and the Capitol complex. The plan does not pose a threat to private homes.
The plan does not suggest repair or additions to the West Front of the Capitol, a controversial proposal generally favored by generations of architects of the Capitol.
If Congress adopts the plan, it would serve only as a guideline for growth. Congress could alter it at any time.
The report is the final phase of five years of work by some of the top city planners and architects in the country, headed by George M. White, architect of the Capitol; Elliott Carroll, his assistant, George Toop, staff assistant, and a distinguished group of urban planners. Congress contributed a $450,000 appropriation.
The planners were asked to avoid pragmatic solutions, to study various alternative suggestions and come up with a plan "to stir men's blood." The plan has been discussed in more than 60 open forums.
One member of the group, Philadelphia architect Romaldo Giurgola of Mitchell-Giurgola, said that unlike other master plans, this one sets the limit of building that the Hill can accommodate, instead of trying to make room for a predicted growth.
As did a plan submitted in 1902, it says that "if new buildings are needed, here's where they should go." The report points out that only half the 78 buildings cited by this earlier proposal were built.
The new plan, however, acknowledges that electronic communication, no matter how fancy, will not substitute for the face-to-face conduct of business on Capitol Hill.
The plan would limit the growth of congressional buildings to 4.7 million square feet, less than half the original 11.7 million square feet proposed by an earlier phase of the study and half the 9.7 million existing square feet occupied by congressional office buildings. The additions, remodelings or new buildings will be at 13 sites within the jurisdiction of the architect of the Capitol.
First priority is expected to go to a new House of Representatives office building on a South Capitol Street site to relieve what White calls "serious overcrowding."
The Senate's needs are projected as satisfied for 30 years after the Hart building is completed.
The plan sets a ceiling of 38,000 people on the growth of the congressional presence, but adds only 2,000 parking spaces. Congress has 535 members, 18,000 employes and 9,000 parking places.
Some mixed use -- such as shops or restaurants -- would be permitted in new buildings.
Several sites mentioned earlier as possibilities for new building, including the site of the Taft carillon and a plot at First Street and Constitution Avenue, will not be involved.
The Olmstead landscaping plan for the Capitol, calling for the planting of many trees, would be revived. A tree screen is proposed for the Southwest Freeway.
The Supreme Court would be given separate status at a new site, location not specified, but away from the Capitol Hill area.
"The court should not stand in the shadow of Congress," White said. "We hope that people will begin now to speculate on where the Supreme Court could go." White added that the present Supreme Court building could be used by the Library of Congress.
Another priority would put the front yards of nearby houses on Second Street under the jurisdiction of the architect of the Capitol. The plan also proposes giving White a vote on the Fine Arts Commission whenever the commission is called upon to rule on a matter that affects Capitol Hill.
"The only houses that could possibly be in peril would be five or six on the south side of D Street Southwest at New Jersey Avenue, and that would be almost 75 years away," White said.
Much above-ground parking would be abolished. The Capitol's East Plaza, currently used as a parking lot for 900 cars, would be cleared of vehicles and turned into a ceremonial pedestrian plaza.
"Now," said White, "it looks like a supermarket parking lot. It's an indignity to the building."
Parking for 500 cars, some service facilities and a car and truck access tunnel would be constructed under the plaza.
Near the top of the list of recommendations is the building of a shuttle to bridge the gap between the Metro stops at Union Station and at First and D streets SE. The plan recommends that a Metro car be operated through one of two existing railroad tunnels that traverse the Capitol area. For the short term, shuttle buses could be used, it was suggested.
Two previous plans, the McMillan plan of 1902, devised largely by Daniel Burnham, and the Pierre L'Enfant plan of 1792, were for the whole city. The new master plan pays homage to them and to the Frederick Olmstead landscaping plan of 1872.
The original Capitol was completed in 1829. The Thomas U. Walter Senate and House wings with the higher dome, the Olmstead front terraces and the expansion of Capitol Square were completed in 1865.
Planning consultants for the 1981 White plan were Wallace, Roberts and Todd, architects, planners and landscape architects of Philadelphia; Hammer, Siler, George Associates, economic and social planners of Washington; Alan M. Voorhees Inc., transportation and parking planners of McLean; Frederick Gutheim, historic preservation planner of Washington, and Mitchell-Giurgola, architects and urban designers of Philadelphia.
A National Advisory Group studied and offered criticism of the plan and its suggestions.Its members included Dr. Rene Dubos, environmentalist; Howard Johnson, MIT corporation chairman; Julian Levi, law professor, University of California; Gerald McCue, dean of the Harvard Design School; Gerald Piel, editor and publisher of Scientific American; Archibald Rogers, architect and urban designer, and Richard Scammon, former director of the census, now director of the Election Research Corporation.