Reliable Security Information

Save the J. Edgar Hoover Building

The J.Edgar Hoover FBI headquarters defines the agency, and should be preserved for posterity. More than any other structure in Washington, it is a monument to the turbulent 1960s. The "Brutalist" style of the building perfectly captures the agency under Hoover.

Other government buildings in Washington, such as the Old EOB, the Pension Building, or the Old Patent Office Building have been standing for far longer, and have been repaired as needed, though their architectural style and original purposes faded with time. The idea of replacing the Hoover building with some anonymous glass box could only occur to minds that know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Even a stopped clock is correct twice a day. The fact that Donald Trump favors preserving the Hoover Building should not detract from the urgency of doing so.

The FBI wants out of the Brutalist-style J. Edgar Hoover building. In 1964, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) approved the design concept for FBI headquarters. Construction started in 1967, and in 1974, FBI personnel began moving into the new building, which was named for the FBI's first and seemingly immortal director, J. Edgar Hoover.

A dry moat protects the building in addition to numerous antivehicular barriers. This moat is a trench that helps to limit how close pedestrians and vehicles can get to the building and directs access to specific entry points. The building is a concrete structure, 7 stories high on its Pennsylvania Avenue side, with the seventh floor, the site of the Director's, set in a citadel high above the rest of the building, and the rest of the country. These and other design features were entirely functional at the time the building was designed, intended to make the building and the agency impervious to turbulent crowds of protesters.

Brutalism is an architectural style that stemmed from the modern architecture movement of the mid-twentieth century, and flourished from the 1950s through the 1970s. Character-defining features include the widespread use of concrete, sculptural, or blocky forms that are usually top-heavy, with deep-set windows. These characteristics set Brutalist buildings apart from other modernist styles in the same time period, which appear lighter and more transparent. Brutalist buildings communicate a sense of permanence and monumentality, sometimes appearing fortress-like with large angular forms.

According to FBI and GSA assessments, by 2011 the FBI's headquarters facilities -- the Hoover Building and the headquarters annexes -- do not fully support the FBI's long-term security, space, and building condition requirements. So the General Services Administration [GSA] had been looking to swap it to a developer in exchange for a newly constructed FBI headquarters elsewhere in the region.

In 2013, Trump had expressed interest in the FBI headquarters moving out of Washington, DC so he could acquire the land on Pennsylvania Avenue and redevelop the property. However, after he was sworn in as President -- and became ineligible as a federal employee to obtain the property -- he reportedly became "dead opposed" to the government selling the property to potential competitors to his Old Post Office hotel across the street.

House Democrats recently criticized Trump's decision to abandon a long-term plan developed over multiple administrations to move the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from its current site on Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, DC to a suburban location. New documents obtained by the Ranking Members in October 2018 showed that a more expensive plan to keep the existing property on Pennsylvania Avenue, demolish the existing building, and construct a new facility on the same site -- and thereby prevent commercial developers from competing with the Trump Hotel directly across the street -- was approved during a meeting with President Trump at the Oval Office on January 24, 2018.

The FBI has outgrown the Hoover building, and has staff scattered among 20 or so annexes around the Capital Region. The FBI already operates its training Academy at the 55,000 acre Marine Corps Base Quantico, and these annex operations could be consolidated there for greater security. Post-9/11 the Pentagon consolidated many activities at nearby 8,656-acre Fort Belvoir, which still has plenty of room for new tenants.

But the Hoover building should be protected under the District of Columbia Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act, and included in the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places - or by any means necessary!!.

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