The Architect of the Capitol on Prepping the ‘Nation’s Stage’ for Inauguration

BY Ellen Rolfes  January 16, 2013 at 2:33 PM EDT


Get a behind-the-scenes look at the planning for the inaugural ceremonies from the man pulling the strings, architect of the U.S. Capitol Stephen T. Ayers.

A little like the Wizard of Oz, Stephen Ayers is the man whose behind-the-scenes leadership is critical to pulling off a successful presidential inauguration. As the architect of the Capitol, he is responsible for everything from the construction of the inaugural platform to laying out the more than 30,000 seats on the west front lawn to the setting up Jumbotrons, media towers and sound and lighting systems. Ayers is more technical director for the inaugural ceremonies than just traditional architect.

And though preparations for the 2013 Inauguration kicked into high gear one year ago, Ayers said inaugural planning begins much earlier than many might think. “Our planning for the presidential inauguration really begins right after the previous presidential inauguration,” Ayers told PBS NewsHour. “We may wait a month, maybe two months and then re-gather the team and talk about what went well, what we want to replicate and what we want to fix.”

Ayers was nominated and appointed to the position of Architect of the Capitol) by President Obama in 2010. His inauguration responsibilities are only a small portion of his regular duties. In addition, Ayers overseas nearly 2,600 federal employees who work to maintain, operate, develop and preserve 17.4 million square feet of federal buildings, including the Capitol, Supreme Court and Library of Congress, to name a few.


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Video shot by Justin Scuiletti and edited by Ellen Rolfes and Justin Scuiletti.