The Corinthian Order
The outside of the Capitol was designed in the Corinthian order, classical architecture's most elaborate and costly style of columns, pilasters and entablature. There are 12 porticoes and colonnades that employ 136 stone columns with capitals carved with the order's distinctive acanthus leaves and volutes. All around the building the Corinthian order is carried by pilasters holding the entablature, which has elaborately carved modillions, dentils, rosettes and egg-and-dart moldings. The Corinthian order is again seen in the iron dome, which has 48 columns, 72 pilasters, and a proportionate length of entablature.
Because it is expensive and intricate, the Corinthian order is generally reserved for society's most honored buildings. This is precisely why President George Washington wanted the Corinthian order employed at the Capitol. He wanted the Capitol to stand first among America's public buildings, earning it the respect of foreign visitors and the admiration of his fellow citizens.