A Protective Web | Nebraska State Capitol

A Protective Web

The spiderpeople are back and leaving their mark on the Nebraska State Capitol’s gold tile dome. When their work is completed, the Capitol’s gold dome will be covered with a giant spider web.  This past July, a team of spiderwomen and men hung from the top of the Capitol and inspected the gold tile to determine the cause of white efflorescence on the dome’s south west side. To reach the dome for inspection the spiderpeople (contractors) rappelled down from the base of the Sower and then checked the entire dome surface. The inspections revealed caulking, applied to the expansion joints during the Exterior Masonry Restoration Project in 2001, had deteriorated and was allowing water infiltration at an alarming rate and to disastrous effect. Their  general condition report on the dome let the Office of the Capitol Commission know that in most places the caulking was no longer present and the expansion joints which allow the dome to move during the freeze-thaw cycle were open to the weather. The freezing temperatures had pushed some tile out of place, and the efflorescence was a sign of deep water penetration into the inner dome structure. After the initial inspection, funds were transferred from an interior plaster repair and paint project to allow the spiderpeople to return and temporarily seal the expansion joints, limiting further water infiltration. Mild October weather permitted the stabilization work to be completed before the most dramatic temperature differences of the freeze thaw cycle occur later this fall and winter.  The temporary web (caulk and black tape) will keep the gold tiles in place until work on a more permanent solution can begin in 2020.

The white efflorescence on the gold tile dome was visible from the ground and caused the Capitol’s preservation architects concern.
The caulk has disappeared from the expansion joints allowing water to infiltrate the dome’s subsurface and cause extensive damage.
Viewed from below the contractors appear to crawl like spiders across the gold tile dome.
Hanging from ropes, contractors apply a protective waterproof tape to the gold tile dome.
The protective web begins to take form on the Capitol’s dome. Contractors will cover all expansion joints to limit water infiltration.