In the second phase of the Washington Monument's face lift, workers are preparing scaffolding to restore the 112-year-old stores.
The monument is expected to remain open during the repairs, which should be completed in 2000, said Jim Maddy, president of the National Park Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the National Park Service.It is possible, however, that the monument will have to be closed when work begins near the visitors' entrance.
The scaffolding, designed by architect Michael Graves, will cover the entire monument and will be erected some time in November, after which the work on the stones can begin.
The monument will remain visible throughout the restoration through a design that combines blue outlining fabric and semitransparent netting. At night, the monument will gleam with hundreds of lights attached to the scaffolding.
Maddy called the design an "intellectually elegant solution." It will allow crews to get to the monument to clean and restore the 36,000 stones that make up the obelisk, which is 555 feet, 51/8 inches high.
Private companies are paying for most of the $9.4 million restoration. About $3 million is from government funds.
The final phase of repairs, set to begin late next year, will refurbish the observation areas at the top of the monument, install new exhibits and clean and polish the 193 commemorative stones that line the interior.
It's the first time the monument, which was completed in 1884, has undergone extensive repairs since the 1930s.