Years in the making, the 2022 Hoover Dam Restoration Project officially kicked off this past February. The US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation is working with teams around the country to bring Monument Plaza and the sculptures surrounding the Hoover Dam back to their original 1930’s glory.
ACE is proud to be a part of the team.
Boulder Dam/Hoover Dam
Straddling the Nevada and Arizona borders, Boulder Dam was affectionately called “Hoover Dam” during its construction. The Roosevelt administration officially named it “Boulder Dam”, until an Act of Congress in 1947 changed the name back to “Hoover Dam” and made it official.
It is one of the most visited locations in America, with over 7 million tourists each year. All of them visit Monument Plaza, and almost all of them “rub the toes for luck” on the winged sculptures.
“Wings of the Republic” and Monument Plaza
In 1936, one year after construction was complete, the US Bureau of Reclamation commissioned two statues from artist Oskar J.W. Hansen for the Boulder Dam.
The sculptures, entitled “Wings of the Republic”, act as two 30-foot tall sentries, flanking a 142-foot flagpole flying Old Glory. Bronzed and aged to a greenish patina, the winged sculptures are described as part angel, part symbol of the strength of man.
Below the statutes lies the terrazzo “Star Map” which required thousands of astronomical calculations to properly align the planets and constellations. Part of a 26,000-year “astronomical clock”, the calculations pinpoint the moment of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s dedication in 1935. Oskar J.W. Hansen completed the plaza and sculptures in 1937.
The entire art deco structure is located at the Visitors Center of Hoover Dam, in the section called Monument Plaza.
Oskar J.W. Hansen also designed the plaque commemorating the 96 men who died during the construction of Hoover Dam.
First Attempt at Restoration
In 1958, an unnatural and rapid deterioration required immediate repairs to be made to the terrazzo.
Investigative analysis, which included the removal of materials for laboratory analyses, discovered lack of water runoff. It appeared the terrazzo contained no means of water drainage. Also, the terrazzo is essentially boxed in on all four sides, with a lack of adequate expansion joints.
Not only did the 1958 rehabilitation project fail to fully repair the problems, details of the Star Map were inadvertently moved from their original calculated positions.
Current Restoration Project
ACE, led by Cliff Jones, is excited to be part of the team that is restoring such a significant landmark. The uniqueness of this project really stands out for us, and we have been fortunate to help in many aspects during planning and construction.
The intricate detail of the Star Map makes for a significant reconstruction challenge for the construction team. The plan is to not only repair and preserve Monument Plaza, but to place the Star Map details back to their original calculated positions.
Joey Summers, ACE’s Vice President of Preconstruction, said of the project, “We’ve been part of much larger and more complex projects, but it is very rare to have the chance to work on a project with such historical significance and one that is visited by so many people from around the world.”