« ForrigeFortsett »
Of course, with the growth that occurs after that, we are going to need all the facilities that we can provide.
Mr. GRAY. Mr. Secretary, that is a very good point.
From the concourse, the visitor then proceeds through to what is now the main waiting room. We named it the main hall. Again it is a grand space designed by Mr. Burnham which we think should not be encumbered by foreign sort of architecture.
What we propose is that a screen be placed in the floor, and this will be a screen which is a moving map of the District and its environment. It can zoom in on Hains Point or the Capitol area, showing where Congressmen have their offices—most people think they have them in the Capitol Building. It can describe various interpretative tours around the city. It might evolve into a little helicopter ride around a particular area, to really show the visitor, as his last stop in the building before he goes out, let him avail himself of the various transportation facilities, that he is here and it is easy to get there, and again it is photographically done and should be exciting.
Again it is permissive; if someone wishes to avoid it, he can go around it. I think this is important.
Besides that, there are a variety of necessary information booths and tour booths, and whatnot, scattered around the building in the hall: lounge off to this end, a space which is presently the ticketing area, which will in the future be the link between this building and the D.C. Rapid Transit, which station will be at the end of the building [indicating]
Mr. GRAY. Mr. Wright of Texas.
Mr. WRIGHT. Mr. Chairman, what I am suggesting at this point gets into the next phase of the operation rather than planning. I think perhaps it is well to take this into consideration.
I believe it would be very useful to have a separate time or system of buses for these tourists, whether it is operated by Transit or the Interior Department, or by whom they are operated. Drivers of the buses should be importuned to be extremely patient, allowing the people who are using this to see the Capital. Sometimes visitors are utterly baffled, lost, and do not know where they are. I feel sure they would not get off at the right point.
Take the situation where buses are operated on a frequency of the transit system, where people do not get a transfer if they do not ask for it and drivers rather dislike to answer questions. I think we have to recognize that either they have a driver who is as patient as a school bus driver, or have a hostess aboard, or someone of this nature, who could take time and be patient with them, and not hurry them or give the impression they are stupid because they do not know where they
I just throw that out right now because I think it will come to that eventually.
Mr. SCHWENGEL. Mr. Wright, will the gentleman yield ? Mr. WRIGHT. Yes, sir. Mr. SCHWENGEL. Here again we can benefit from Williamsburg where they have facilities to plan these trips ahead of time with school principals or instructors, or tour guides, or organizations.
I think the very valid point ought to be in the record here, this is a problem that we ought to recognize--and not only a problem but an opportunity. We ought to take this opportunity to give service here and help simplify their visits here. That is a very good point.
Mr. GRAY. A very forthright suggestion.
Mr. AUERBACH. I think now we go very rapidly through a series of plans of the various floors of the building, the exisiting landmark, to see how the facilities are arranged.
The concourse with all its photographic theaters range here sindicating], the visitor coming through to the main hall. Around it are disposed rest facilities, cafeteria and restaurant, reception theater where groups from some State might meet with their Congressmen or might be connected by closed-circuit TV with the Capitol. This is a special reception room. There is a special student reception, students being probably the most numerous and important as groups; where they can come and be given these special treatments similar to the USO for servicemen.
Incidentally, we have taken the men's and women's rooms to these locations (indicating]; they are here presently and we have moved them to the back of the building, so these windows could now be opened up and a view of the Capitol be gained across the park, Union Station Plaza and the Capitol.
Mr. Gray. Before we leave that slide, how many people do you envision can get into this reception room at one time?
Mr. AUERBACH. About 250 or 300, sir, depending on whether it is fixed theatrical seating or what.
Mr. GRAY. Standing room would be much more than that?
Mr. SCHWENGEL. What provisions are made for foreigners to receive them? Do you have a special reception room where foreigners can come?
Mr. AUERBACII. One of these places will also be set out to accommodate them, probably a small one since it is really an office for interpreters.
Probably only one of the theaters need be equipped with multiple interpretation, because the foreigner can be guided to that theater and the whole building need not be centered for that.
Mr. GRAY. But you do envision, though, an interpretation service? Mr. AUERBACH. Yes, sir.
Mr. GRAY. So that if a person comes here or even a large group comes here from a foreign country, visiting our people or our town, they could see a movie that would be translated for them?
Mr. AUERBACH. Yes, sir. That again would be part of the programing of the facilities over and beyond the design of the building.
Mr. GRAY. What I mean is they would call the Director of the Center and make arrangements? They would not just walk in and find this type of service?
Mr. AUERBACH. I would have to defer to Mr. Jett on that question, sir.
Mr. JETT. I think they could, Mr. Chairman. I think one of these theaters we will have equipped with earphones for translation of the
commentary. This was included in Congressman Schwengel's program in the committee's report, and we would expect to
Mr. Gray. This would be available at all times, then, without special arrangements?
Mr. JETT. Yes, sir.
Secretary UDALL. Mr. Chairman, I would like to express the hope, too, because I think we ought to be hospitable to people from other countries, I think we ought to make it just as pleasant for them. I am sure with the use of modern communication media, electronics and so on, that in 5 or 10 years from now, we have for people, let's say, who do not speak English at all, not only participation interpretative facilities, but maybe when they go on a tour bus, you could have the sort of thing they have in the National Gallery now, where you can put on a headset and you are told in your language what you are seeing as you go along.
I think we ought to have this kind of care and pride in what we do so that the foreign visitor enjoys it just as much as the American.
Mr. GRAY. I agree with yoù implicitly.
Mr. AUERBACH. I would like to go up one floor. At this point we have a hostel. On the upper floors, on the mezzanine we have a nursery and infirmary, which would take care of short stays for the babies while mom and dad go to spend an hour in the Capitol and then come back, or maybe it could be expanded to broader service than that. But I think all of us who are fathers know that that could be an invaluable service.
Also the usual infirmary, taking care of those unfortunate victims of a fall or what-have-you.
On the upper floor, on the second floor we have the USO facilities, which are removed from their present location, but they are enlarged in the doing
Mr. GRAY. Let me interrupt you at that point, if I may, because we do have a USO witness coming, and they are very much concerned. They will have, you say, more space than they have now?
Mr. AUERBACH. Yes, sir.
Mr. Gray. I think that is a very vital part of our tourist facilities program. You know, a lot of our servicemen will be coming in by train. If we have the facilities there for them, I think this would be a very, very important part of our overall tourist service.
Mr. AUERBACH. Not only will it be larger, sir, but its entrance can be gained from the main hall at this point (indicating], rather than from the side entrance that is presently available to the USO.
Mr. Gray. We can assure the witness who will appear later they will have improved facilities?
Mr. AUERBACH. Yes, sir.
Another point is that they will be adjacent on the second floor to such things as the Youth Hostel and short-stay hotel. The Short-stay Hotel is similar to the Air Wayte at the National Airport. That is a heck of a convenience to the serviceman. He may be able to catch a catnap after being on the train all night, or what have you.
I would like to point out at this time that the budget for reworking the building, in response to the $5 million limit that we were told, has left out the trains and rest facilities and the student hostel, and those things which would be handled on a different basis. I think Secretary Udall can go into that in more detail.
Mr. Gray. I think this is a good point to make now as to why we should not tie the hands of the Secretary in negotiation, but merely put a maximum ceiling. In negotiating, maybe some of these additional facilities could be made available and still stay within the $3 million a year annual rental payment.
Mr. AUERBACH. Yes, sir. I am sure opportunities will present themselves. [Slide.]
Going up again, this is an extension on the third floor of a similar facility; on the west end, the employee and administrative facilities to run the Center. [Slide.]
And again we get down to the basement, which was the subject of discussion earlier.
Our understanding was the building was to be leased from the ground up. We have, however, felt the need for projection space for the film diarama, which is in the floor of the main hall. We also needed shops and maintenance space to care for exhibits of various sorts.
The railroads use this space [indicating] extensively, particularly for mail.
In the design and layout of this entire complex, we came to a rather tough item, because the mail handling is over on this side [indicating). As you know, the U.S. post office is on that side, connected by an elaborate, expensive conveyor system, much of which is in this area (indicating]. And I think in the design of it, if that conveyor had to be moved to another location above and taken out of this basement, it would be a severe penalty on the budget. They are in there.
So we feel this is all the space that is necessary in the basement.
Mr. Wright. The conveyor operation would go under the parkway, or would it be under the main station?
Mr. AUERBACH. It is in the basement, essentially the basement of the concourse. This is this space in here [indicating], and there are through tracks, as you well know, that go on south to Florida.
The conveyors come across above the street on this side [indicating), from the post office through the bridge, they then fall down through a variety of conveyor devices to this lower level, and they go across this way indicating]; they go down into a tunnel that goes under the through tracks, they come back up on this side [indicating], and they feed into an elaborate conveyor switching mechanism that services something like 7 or 8 post office or mailtrucks and conveyors feed right into them.
Mr. WRIGHT. Physically they would be below the concourse?
Mr. SCHWENGEL. On that point, I am amazed to be introduced to this new plan here. I thought all this area would be ours.
Now, another thought comes to me-I can see the necessity, of course; we have to keep up the operation of the mails facilities, we do not want to interfere--but this becomes an additional expense, these changes you are talking about become additional expense. I think they should not be charged to us. They are going to be an improvement for the railroad and for the Government, and they should not be charged to the Visitor Center.
Can you propose some other way to finance this?
Mr. AUERBACH. I am sorry, I find that a difficult question to answer at this time, except to say the way it is presently arranged, there is only one conveyor that need be moved. If the Post Office facilities and the railroad facilities were displaced from the basement, we would be involved in the moving of about four or five major conveyors.
Mr. SCHWENGEL. My point is I do not think we ought to ask the visitors who are going to pay for this in parking fees, and so forth, to have to pay for this facility, this change, this improvement. This will be for the Government and/or the railroad to handle; that finance should not be part of the expense of this total project.
Mr. Gray. Let me propound this question: If we leave it as it now exists, will we be preempting any space that we might need? In other words, would we need that vacant space for the National Visitor Center? Why not just leave them as they are now and not disturb the basement at all?
Mr. AUERBACH. If I can go back to a previous plan and show you where it presently rests, I think you might see the problem. [Slide.]
At the moment the mail conveyor comes across from the post office on a bridge into this end of the concourse (indicating], and at that end of the concourse there is a great contrivance of chutes and belts. It then goes back this way and it goes along on the edge of the concourse above head to about this point [indicating]. At this point it falls down again to the chute system, through a conveyor that feeds out on this track. From that point on it then proceeds at a lower elevation, almost head high-just barely above head height over to this area where all the parcel post is gathered, and then eventually down by ramps and chutes to the mailhandling facilities at the lower level.
If that were to be left, that would be a rather mechanistic, industrial sort of thing to have in the entrance of the Visitors Center. I think it has to be removed.
The railroads I understand are willing to give us this track as a mail handling track to facilitate this.
Mr. Gray. I am referring to the usable space in the basement. Can you see any useful purpose for that space for the Visitor Center?
Mr. AUERBACH. No, sir.
Mr. Gray. You are talking about the unsightliness of having these overhead conveyors. I am talking about the existing space in the basement.
If we were to say tomorrow we will move all this out, do you see any purpose for that space for the Visitor Center?
Mr. AUERBACH. No, sir.
Mr. Gray. That is the point. I think these conveyors should be moved at the expense of someone other than the Department of the Interior. I am sure the Post Office and railroad will do that. [Slide.]
Mr. AUERBACH. Well, this is the exiting really from the Visitor Center after availing themselves of facilities, orienting themselves to the Center. The visitors will come out the splendid front of Mr. Burnham's Union Station, take several tour shuttles or various conveyances to various areas of the city. From this end of the building they can have direct access to the rapid transit system if they so choose. [Slide.]
I will leave this on in case there is any question.
Mr. GRĂY. Are there any questions on my right?