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Large Chunk of Plaster Falls From Cannon Ceiling

The Architect of the Capitol is already laying out plans for major renovations to the Cannon House Office Building scheduled to begin in 2017. And if an incident this morning is any indication, the need is pressing for such restorations to the oldest office building on the Capitol campus.

An approximately 64-square-foot section of plaster fell from the fourth floor ceiling in Cannon, AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki said, adding that no injuries or further damage occurred.

“Following an inspection by the AOC’s House Superintendent’s office, it appears the plaster deteriorated due to age,” she explained.

The AOC has known for some time that major work is needed to keep the 100-year-old building in working order.

“We have reached a critical stage in the life of the Cannon Building … plagued with serious safety, health, environmental and operational issues that are rapidly worsening,” Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers wrote earlier this month to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“Without action, the essential systems housed behind the walls and in mechanical rooms will continue to crumble and fail,” Ayers continued.

There was no indication that today’s incident will affect the timetable for the renovation.

No earlier than January 2017, the AOC will undertake a “complete renewal” of the building. The start date has been set so far in advance to accommodate extensive planning and minimize disruptions.

The renovation plan was approved by the House Administration Committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch and House leadership.

Ayers said in his letter that the AOC’s plan is to keep Cannon open during the work but to close off areas of the building while they are being renovated.

That will necessitate a musical chairs of temporary relocations.

Members with Cannon offices in areas undergoing construction will be relocated to temporary suites in Rayburn and Longworth. But to clear up space in those buildings, some House support offices and committee staff will be temporarily relocated to the Ford House Office Building or leased space in the building next door: the newly renovated but uncharmingly named Federal Office Building 8.

Though behind-the-scenes work to prepare for the Cannon undertaking will continue from now to 2017, lawmakers and staffers will not feel any effects until that time, Ayers said.

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