After 11 years — having served under U.S. presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — Stephen Ayers, FAIA, will step down from his position as Architect of the Capitol (AOC) later this month. The Architect of the Capitol is in the legislative branch and is accountable to the United States Congress and the Supreme Court. Responsible for the maintenance, operation, development and preservation of 17.4 million square feet of buildings and more than 553 acres of land throughout Capitol Hill since 1793, the Architect’s Office is also responsible for the upkeep and improvement of the Capitol Grounds, and the arrangement of inaugural ceremonies and other ceremonies held in the building or on the grounds.

During his tenure as AOC, Ayers oversaw the completion of the Capitol Visitor Center, which was behind schedule and over budget when he took office; the restoration of the U.S. Capitol Dome and Rotunda, which required repairing more than 1,000 cracks; and the repair of the Washington Monument, which was damaged during the 2011 earthquake.

Ayers started his career in 1997 as an assistant superintendent for Senate Office Buildings, later serving as the deputy superintendent for Senate Office Buildings, the superintendent of Library Buildings and Grounds, the acting deputy architect/chief operating officer and as the deputy architect/chief operating officer. In February 2007, Ayers was named the acting AOC, serving under President George W. Bush. In 2010, he was unanimously confirmed as the AOC under President Barack Obama.

In a statement about Ayers’ retirement, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) commended him for his contributions. “Throughout his tenure as AOC, Stephen Ayers has successfully ensured the highest standards of design, construction and preservation for some of the most important buildings in American history while also overcoming significant challenges,” said AIA Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA. “He has proven how architects can lead and serves as a symbol of the impact architects have on public projects. His work over the course of his 20 years in public service is truly a blueprint for better.”

The AIA has already convened a task force to determine candidates to recommend to a congressional commission charged with filling the position. A permanent AOC appointment requires presidential nomination and confirmation by the Senate.

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