As the East Front of the Capitol has been transformed from a public park to a construction site, Members and their staffers have become accustomed to life on the Hill without half of Congress’ lawn. No longer can trips between the House and Senate office buildings be shortened with a stroll across the plaza, as crews work to excavate more than 500,000 cubic yards of soil to make way for the 580,000-square-foot subterranean Capitol Visitor Center. By the summer, foundation walls and the roof slab are expected to be nearly completed. The $350 million visitor center is scheduled to be partially open for the presidential inauguration in January 2005. In addition to a screening facility, food and restrooms for visitors, the CVC will boast an auditorium, meeting rooms, an underground loading dock, exhibition space outlining Congressional history and more than 80,000 square feet of “shell space” for each chamber to use as it deems appropriate.