We heard recently that D.C.'s preservation community was turning a cold shoulder to the plight of one of the city's last examples of Brutalist architecture. The proposal made public this week by the General Services Administration to "[hand] the Hoover building to private developers in exchange for building the FBI a new headquarters campus elsewhere in the region" is raising urgent questions about the fate of the "ugliest building on Earth" and a race among local officials to land the new FBI campus.
The announcement of the proposed trade by GSA Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini on Monday, "immediately kick-started a competition among local jurisdictions to win a federal campus that would bring as many as 11,000 FBI headquarters jobs," writes Jonathan O'Connell. "Local members of Congress sounded like real estate brokers as they pitched sites and talked up their jurisdictions."
"While the FBI voiced its displeasure about the [Hoover] building in recent years, a snazzy new downtown neighborhood grew up around it, one featuring retailers H&M, Anthropologie and shops selling frozen yogurt and gourmet sandwiches."
"The apartments and restaurants make the concrete mass of the government building appear more dated than ever. Its sidewalks, devoid of cafes and patrolled by FBI authorities on Segways, seems to belong to a time when downtown D.C. emptied at 5 p.m. Even top historic preservation officials in the city consider the building not worth what would probably be a very public, bitter fight to try to save it," adds O'Connell.
Officials hope the sale of the building will pay for the cost of constructing a new FBI campus.