- "On your left is a view of the Senatorial Chambers, where laws for the entire civilized cosmos are debated."
- ―Coruscant tour guide
The Senate Building, also known as the Senate Rotunda, Senate Tower, Convocation Center, or Senate Dome, was the building on Coruscant in the center of the Senate District which served as the seat of the Galactic Senate from the end of the Great Sith War until the end of the Old Republic, also serving as the seat of the Imperial Senate during the Galactic Empire, with the Grand Convocation Chamber at its heart. The designers claimed that any weapon capable of destroying the Chamber would also have to be powerful enough to destroy the entire planet, making the facility invulnerable against sabotage or orbital bombardment.
Erected by the Galactic Republic circa 3996 BBY in the wake of the Great Sith War, the Senate Rotunda was built on the remains of the former Senate Hall, which had not been used after the duel between Jedi Master Vodo-Siosk Baas and Sith Lord Exar Kun. A large mushroom-shaped complex, the new Senate building was one of many prominent sites on the city-planet, ranked as one of the largest tourist sites there. Like the Presidential Palace and the Jedi Temple, the Senate Building's unique architecture and distance from taller buildings made it easily distinguished amongst the densely packed skylanes of the Republic's capital.
As the Republic thrived, more worlds joined the Republic following the Mandalorian Wars and the Jedi Civil War. Unbeknownst to the Senate or the Jedi High Council, the hidden Sith Empire had already infiltrated the ranks of the Senate and the Jedi Order in preparation for their return. When the Sith did return, Coruscant was taken unawares and the Empire struck at the Senate District, blackening the facade of the Republic Executive Building and leveling the nearby Jedi Temple. With the security-command center in the Temple crippled, Sith forces swept through the Senate and Supreme Chancellor Berooken was executed by Darth Angral. With the Chancellor dead and Coruscant defenseless, the Republic was forced to sign the Treaty of Coruscant and broker peace with the Empire. With the treaty signed, the Empire immediately withdrew from Coruscant and the rebuilding process begun. Over the course of the next week, an enraged Jedi Master called Dar'Nala orchestrated a bombing at the Senate building, blasting apart the upper levels from the inside and killing targeted senators who backed the treaty with the Sith. The attack was designed to reincite the hatred of the Sith and lead the Republic back into war; the plot was revealed by Dar'Nala's former Padawan, Satele Shan, and the peace was kept. As Interim Chancellor Paran Am-Ris took the reigns of the Senate, repairs were made to the Senate Building while funds could not be diverted to the rebuilding of the Jedi Temple.
Following the end of the Galactic War with the Sith Empire, the Republic began to thrive once more; the Jedi Temple began reconstruction and worlds ravaged by the Sith were rehabilitated. Peace reigned in the Republic until the devastating battle at Mizra between the Republic and a new breed of Sith. The loss drastically weakened the Republic's power during the New Sith Wars and further decline eventually led to the Republic Dark Age. In turn, the Jedi began taking up the mantle of Supreme Chancellor, an unprecedented move by the Order as the Jedi tried to keep the increasingly shrinking Republic intact. After four centuries of Jedi rule, Tarsus Valorum was elected Chancellor. The war was ended and the Brotherhood of Darkness routed, and the Senate passed the Ruusan Reformation to bring the Republic back in line.
At the close of the Republic's Golden Age, the Vote of No Confidence in Chancellor Finis Valorum was accepted by the Senate and Senator Palpatine of the Chommell sector became Chancellor. During his term, the Separatist Crisis tore the Republic apart; as more worlds broke away, tensions rose. Dark Jedi Granta Omega attacked the Senate during this time, killing several senators with a dangerous air-borne toxin developed by scientist Jenna Zan Arbor. Eventually the conflict in the Senate evolved into the Clone Wars. As thousands of star systems withdrew from the capital and the Jedi Order suffered grievous losses in the war, arguments in the Senate chamber became as heated as the Republic's battlefields. After three years of death and destruction in the name of peace, Chancellor Palpatine announced the end of the war and the Declaration of a New Order, the first Galactic Empire. Disbanding the Jedi Order, Palpatine, in fact the mysterious Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Sidious' alter-ego, was confronted by the Order's Grand Master, Yoda, in the Grand Convocation Chamber. Hurling over a dozen repulsorpods with the Force and damaging countless others during the confrontation, the newly christened Emperor Palpatine emerged victorious and Yoda fled into exile.
The magnitude of damage in the building's convocation chamber caught the eyes of the Senators. Closing the chamber for repair did not put an end to the spread of rumors that Grand Master Yoda had led an attack on Emperor Palpatine himself, and that the ancient Jedi Master had been killed. After repairs were made, the newly appointed Imperial Senate began meeting in an advisory fashion, holding what amounted to largely elaborate meetings with the Grand Vizier, who would later report back to the Emperor on the result of the deliberation. The Emperor, whose scars prevented frequent public appearances, would use the views of the Senate to temper his own and then act with finality, leaving no room for debate or prolonged discussion.
In 0 BBY, nearly two decades after the rise of the Empire, the Imperial Senate was dissolved after Senator Leia Organa of the Alderaan sector was revealed as a member of the Rebel Alliance. Declaring that the Senate Building may have been penetrated by the Rebels by the use of spies and defectors, the Emperor shut the doors to the rotunda and barred all from entering. While publicly the Empire stated the dissolution was temporary, many senators realized the ends of their careers and quietly slipped out of the public eye as the Galactic Civil War ravaged the Empire.
Following the death of the Emperor in 4 ABY, warring factions within the quickly collapsing Empire waged destruction upon Coruscant. The Senate Building, along with the nearby Imperial Palace, sustained heavy damage but proved resilient never-the-less. As the New Republic settled into its role as leader of the galaxy, the Senate Building was repaired and the New Republic Senate convened with its halls. It was within this room that Jedi Master Luke Skywalker made his plea before the assembly to allow him to reform the Jedi Order and begin searching for new recruits. With a majority backing, Skywalker pledged that the new Order would serve as protectors of the Republic, much as the Jedi had for millennia before the Empire.
While the structure had proven sound when attacked from the outside in the past, the same could not be said about an internal assault. In 17 ABY during a full session of the Senate, several detonations rocked the tower, hurling rubble onto the Plaza outside and collapsing the central speaking podium. After removing the dead and wounded, it was eventually discovered that the Dark Jedi Kueller was responsible for the attack. After the issue of the bombing was cleared up, the Senate Hall was gutted and new architects swept into the building and reworked the interior, so much so that many considered it a new complex all together.
While the Republic struggled to establish itself, the galaxy was invaded by an alien race called the Yuuzhan Vong. As attacks against Republic worlds increased, Yuuzhan Vong representative Nom Anor addressed the Senate and encouraged the assembly to denounce the Jedi and hand them over to the invaders. Then Chief of State Borsk Fey'lya rebuffed Anor's plea and had him escorted off Coruscant. However, Anor was successful in increasing the anti-Jedi sentiment among the senators and many Jedi were turned over to the Yuuzhan Vong across the galaxy. As the Senate continued to debate how best to deal with the new threat to the Republic, the Yuuzhan Vong attacked Coruscant in force, breaking through its orbital defenses and smashing through into the skylanes of the city world. As mass evacuations ensued following a crushing victory by the invaders, the Senate Building was left relatively intact if abandoned.
Well of the World Brain
Following the fall of Coruscant, the Yuuzhan Vong selected the ruins of the Senate Building to serve as the home of their World Brain, a massive dhuryam which would transform Coruscant into the legendary homeworld of the invaders, Yuuzhan'tar. Referred to as the Well by the Yuuzhan Vong, the Senate Building ruins were hollowed out while the exterior was quickly digested by yorik coral and hardened into an impenetrable substance. Appearing as a rotting skull from the outside, the Well was further protected by a deadly hedge maze that was planted over the Senate Plaza. Despite the defenses, Jedi Knights Jacen Solo and Ganner Rhysode were able to enter the Well on the pretense that Solo would consult with the World Brain before sacrificing Rhysode to the True Gods. Within the Well, Jedi Rhysode sacrificed himself while protecting Solo as he consulted with the World Brain, convincing it to subtly sabotage the Yuuzhan Vong's terraforming of the planet.
In an effort to retake Coruscant, members of the Jedi Order planned to destroy the World Brain. As Republic heroes Han and Leia Solo entered the former Atrium with defected Yuuzhan Vong Harrar, a band of Shamed Ones, the lower class of the alien invaders, stormed the building as part of a heretical movement to overthrow the Yuuzhan Vong caste system. Aided by Jedi Masters Kenth Hamner, Mara Jade Skywalker, and Jedi Tahiri Veila, the Jedi and Galactic Alliance fighters were able to convince the World Brain to surrender and, through other events elsewhere on the planet, retake Coruscant for the Galactic Alliance.
With the defeat of the Yuuzhan Vong, the New Republic was reorganized into the Galactic Alliance and, after having met on Dac in the Alliance's formative years, the Senate returned to Coruscant after the Swarm War and took up occupancy in the restored Senate Building. Having been stripped of all remnants of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, the complex was reopened and the Senate quickly went into session discussing the second Corellian insurrection with vigor. While debate rang out in the Grand Convocation Chamber, protesters from across the galaxy gathered in the Plaza in support of Corellia.
Over the following months Jedi Jacen Solo, Colonel of the Galactic Alliance Guard and the secret Sith apprentice of Dark Lady of the Sith Lumiya, quickly amassed power in the Senate, eventually attaining the rank of Chief of State alongside Admiral Cha Niathal running a dictatorial campaign and leading the fight in the Second Galactic Civil War. As Colonel Solo's atrocious policies and murderous acts increased, the Jedi High Council was forced to act. Dispatching a team of Jedi to the Senate Building, Jedi Master Kyle Katarn attempted to end Solo's reign. When Katarn was severely injured in the Senate Plaza, the Jedi accompanying him retreated, having installed a tracking beacon in Solo's robes during the chaos.
A massive drum-shaped building boasting a shield-shaped dome with a diameter of more than two kilometers, the Senate Building was built some time after 3996 BBY following the duel between Jedi Master Vodo-Siosk Baas and Sith Lord Exar Kun in the old Senate Hall. On Coruscant, new structures were typically erected on top of older buildings, eliminating the need for demolition; the ancient meeting hall of the Galactic Senate served as the foundations of the new Senate Tower.
Located in the heart of the Senate District, the building was situated at the end of a large, flat concourse known as the Avenue of the Core Founders. This area was lined with tall, impressionistic humanoid statues, each representing a founder from each of the Core Worlds. Surrounded by the Senate Plaza, several parks such as the Gardens of Equality and Justice served as meeting places near to the Rotunda.
Adorning the front of the building were two narrow towers. One of these structures contained the primary office of the Supreme Chancellor during the Galactic Republic. The summit chamber's design was antiquate by the administration of Chancellor Finis Valorum and offered a wide view of the capital. Following the election of Chancellor Palpatine, the former representative of Naboo ordered the construction of the Republic Executive Building and moved his primary working office to a brand new suite there.
Entrance to the Rotunda was gained after passing through the ceremonial entryway known as the Great Door. Adorned with the Great Seal of the Republic and the sigils of the Thousand Worlds, the doors were open to all who might enter, as symbolic of the Republic as the iconography emblazoning the durasteel. Directly beyond the Great Door was the large Atrium of the Senate. This grand, circular chamber was lined with statues of the Republic's greatest heroes and politicians, as well as members of the Jedi Order, the atrium continued on deeper into the building where a long, two-story hall granted access to several first level embassies and conference rooms. Among the room's tower pillars senators and diplomats gathered and conversed with one another before proceeding on into the Grand Convocation Chamber just beyond the chamber's far door.
Occupying the majority of the building central mass was the cavernous Grand Convocation Chamber, a tiered chamber sometimes referred to as the Senate Arena. The slightly slopping walls of the funnel-shaped room were lined with repulsorpods arranged in concentric patterns from floor to ceiling, which soared over a hundred meters high. The center of the vast chamber was dominated by a podium used by the Supreme Chancellor, the Vice Chair and the Senior Administrative Aide to coordinate the sessions. The chamber contained a total of 1024 repulsorpods, which could be used by delegations from member systems and large voting blocs. When a Senator or representative wished to address the body they were able to detach their pod from its magnetic berth and move out into the open space of the chamber on an automated path. From there, their address would echo throughout the room, translated into hundreds of different languages instantaneously and piped into the other pods for ease of understanding. Small hovercams constantly hovered around the chamber, recording the words of the speakers and broadcasting them onto the ceiling-mounted vidscreens to allow the congregation to view up close visuals of the orator. Because sessions tended to grow long and last into the night, natural light and air was not used to fill the room. Instead, an artificial glow kept the room lit so as to diminish the senators' sense of time.
Directly beneath the Convocation Chamber was a series of rooms known as the Chancellery Secretariat, a set of offices used by the Chancellor and his aides while at the Senate Building. At the heart of the Secretariat was the holding office, located directly below the Senate Chamber and home to the Chancellor's podium when it was not in use. Before the start of a session of the Congress, the Chancellor and his aides would board the podium and the ceiling would dilate and the hydraulics driving the chamber would raise it into arena. A turbolift was also installed under the Chancellor's seat, able to evacuate him from the podium without having to lower it.
Access to the chamber was granted through a small antechamber where the ceremonial, blue-robed Senate Guard stood at attention. The upper tiers of repulsorpods of the Senate Chamber were each assigned a permanent delegation. These senators represented large voting blocs in the Senate or held long tenures in the Republic, such as the representatives of the Core Worlds. These delegations were afforded permanent wedge-shaped offices, which included a multi-room preparation chamber adjoined to the delegation's platform and a separate, larger set of chambers which stretched to the outer edge of the building and served as a place for each delegation's countless aides to toil endlessly without need of travel. These offices were separated from each other by the sloping, canyon-like Grand Concourse, a long corridor that ringed the entire Convocation chamber on each level. The black-tile floor of the bridges and walkways that made up the Concourse was punctuated by the towering silver impressionistic statues that lined it, similar to those found on the Avenue of the Core Founders. Private turbolifts lined the walls of the Concourse, conveying senators to and from their offices, connecting them with the rest of the building.
Security in the building was monitored from the main security center deep in the heart of the building. Senate Guards protected the Senate Chamber as well as delegation offices throughout the building, while members of the Coruscant Security Force patrolled the halls which were otherwise open to the public. Communications throughout the complex were handled by the Senate Communications Center, which was responsible not only for broadcasting the Senate proceedings throughout the building and the galaxy, but for screening all incoming transmissions to Senators and representatives. While each delegation pod in the chamber had privacy buffers under normal circumstances to prevent eavesdropping during private conversations, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine had this function disabled during the Clone Wars in an effort to increase security.
Many storefronts and restaurants occupied the Senate Building, allowing Senators and their staff to shop and eat without leaving the complex. The dining commons was a formal eating establishment popular during the Clone Wars, while others preferred more casual eateries. Below the Senate Rotunda was the Senate Commercial District, wherein the Senate Commerce Hall|Commerce Hall and Galactic Trade Center were located.
Following the Declaration of a New Order, the Galactic Republic Senate was reformed into the Imperial Senate, which continued to make use of the Senate Building. Gone were statues of the Jedi Order, as were certain privacy buffers in the Senate pods and offices. Many high level Imperials moved their offices to the Imperial Palace and the number of planets petitioning for admittance into the Empire paled compared with the Republic. Following the highly-destructive duel between Emperor Palpatine and Grand Master Yoda, the Emperor instructed the architects to install an extensive, crystal ceiling, replacing the old holomonitors and casting a shimmering light on the central podium.
The Senate Building stood largely unchanged after the fall of the Empire and the occupation of the Building by the New Republic Senate. This would change in 17 ABY when the Dark Jedi Kueller bombed the structure, collapsing the Chancellor's podium and ripping out chunks of the chamber and killing many members of the Congress. The subsequent reconstruction saw the internal fittings of the auditorium completely replaced and the Grand Convocation Chamber, which reopened in 19 ABY, was thought of by many contemporaries as an entirely "new" structure, distinct from the old Senate Chamber. The facility was extensively redecorated; no longer would the leader of the Senate, now known as the Chief of State, stand at the center of the room, but on a dais at the room's ground level. Most strikingly of all, in place of the former geometric arrangement of repulsorpods, the seating for delegates was organized into clusters of differing size and shape arranged around the rotunda, connected to each other by ramps and stairways, and capable of holding more than 2,000 delegates. The overall effect of the design was to create a complex arrangement of contrasting forms and details, combined nevertheless into a clear, coherent harmony.
Despite changes to the main chamber, the old Senate Building's superstructure proved to be an exceptionally durable shell to house the Convocation Chamber without demolition being necessary. The main entrance was still through the venerable Great Door and the Atrium which it enclosed, and while the fittings of the Senate Chamber might have been entirely new, they had been reverently installed in an old auditorium, leaving the preexisting structure intact underneath. Statues around the building were replicated and installed; however, post-Imperial influence saw the addition of non-Human figures all around the complex. As membership in the New Republic grew, new balconies were added to the existing clusters to accommodate the growth; rumors about reincorporating the repulsorpods spread during Borsk Fey'lya's administration, but never came to fruition under the New Republic.
Following the Battle of Coruscant during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, both the exterior and interior of the building were digested by yorik coral, giving the building the appearance of a Yuuzhan Vong skull. The new indemonstrable shell of the Senate Building delved deep below the tower, encasing the structure and making it sound against concussion missiles and orbital bombardment—possibly even a planetary explosion. Inside, the former Senate auditorium was filled with a pool of nutrients and became the home of the giant World Brain, the controlling organ behind the invaders terraforming project. Still accessible from the former Atrium of the Senate, a long corridor cut half a kilometer into the building and onto a bridge that spanned half the convocation chamber. The holding office below was transformed into a secret bunker, where a single escape craft was preserved for Nom Anor.
Following the defeat of the Yuuzhan Vong, the Galactic Alliance restored the Building to its pre-Imperial form. The Chief of State's Suite was placed at the summit of the building, and repulsorpods were reincorporated into the Grand Convocation Chamber. The Chief's podium was not recreated however; instead they would occupy their own floating platform to make addresses to the Senate.
Behind the scenes
Although the Senate chamber in The New Jedi Order: Traitor (28 ABY) is clearly intended to be the same space used in the prequels, references in several novels, including Specter of the Past (dated 19 ABY) and The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide I: Onslaught (26 ABY), suggest that the old Senate building had been irreparably damaged in the attack in The New Rebellion (17 ABY), and subsequently demolished.
While the earlier authors had obviously intended the new Senate to be a completely new building, it is possible to reconcile the novels by assuming that the new structure was in fact erected within the shell of the old Senate Building.
- Heir to the Empire Sourcebook (As "Senate Hall")
- Dark Empire Sourcebook
- Heroes & Rogues
- The Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook
- Star Wars Episode I Who's Who: A Pocket Guide to the Characters of The Phantom Menace
- Star Wars Trilogy Sourcebook, Special Edition
- Star Wars: Power of the Jedi
- Coruscant and the Core Worlds
- Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds
- Ultimate Alien Anthology
- Inside the Worlds of Star Wars: Episode I
- Star Wars: Attack of the Clones: The Illustrated Companion
- Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith: The Visual Dictionary
- Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide
- Star Wars: The Old Republic official website
- Star Wars Fandex Deluxe Edition
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (Under Galactic Senate and Galactic Senate Chamber)
- The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural (Picture only)
- Star Wars: The Old Republic Explorer's Guide
- Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia
- Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual
- Star Wars: Beware the Sith
- Star Wars: Force Collection (Card: Lott Dod (★★★)) (Picture only)
- Star Wars: Force Collection (Card: Master Yoda (★★★★★)) (Picture only)
- Star Wars: Sith Wars
- Suns of Fortune
- Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook
Notes and references
- The Journal of Master Gnost'Dural
- The New Jedi Order: Star by Star
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
- Inside the Worlds of Star Wars: Episode I
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- The Courtship of Princess Leia
- Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines
- Jedi Quest: The Changing of the Guard
- Labyrinth of Evil
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- Jedi Search
- The New Rebellion
- Specter of the Past
- The New Jedi Order: Traitor
- The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force
- Legacy of the Force: Betrayal
- Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice
- Legacy of the Force: Fury
- Star Wars: The Old Republic
- Darth Plagueis
- Cloak of Deception
- Coruscant and the Core Worlds
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Senate Spy"