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a life in architecture james sensenbrenner

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James Sensenbrenner, chairman of the judiciary committee of the House of Representatives in the US Congress, says: 'My favourite building is the Capitol [above] in Washington DC. It is an outstanding landmark. Its growth parallels the growth of the city.'

On the day of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Sensenbrenner was in the House of Representatives. He and the Speaker, Dennis Hastert, adjourned the house in order to evacuate the building as soon as they heard of the attack. It was feared the next target would either be the Capitol or the White House.

George Washington laid the Capitol's cornerstone in 1793, but the building was not completed until 1800. After being burnt by the British in 1814, it was rebuilt and extended, the largest additions dating from 1855-65. These included two legislative chambers and the massive dome, with its cast-iron structure. The most recent addition was in 1960, when the eastern front was extended to provide new meeting rooms and 'a more glamorous entrance way from the street into the rotunda'.

The Capitol houses an original of the Magna Carta - a present in 1976 from parliament in Westminster to celebrate the US bicentennial.

Sensenbrenner says: 'America prides itself on keeping the Capitol open to the public at all times, even when Congress is in session. My hope is that we will be able to keep the building open despite recent terrorism, because people in a democracy should be able to see democracy at work.'

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