We're Moving to the Watergate!

Posted on: December 5th, 2013 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 5 Comments

The mixed-use Watergate Complex has five buildings, all of which are on the National Register. Credit: Chirag D. Shah, Flickr
The mixed-use Watergate Complex has five buildings, all of which are on the National Register.

If you haven’t heard the news yet, those of us at National Trust for Historic Preservation headquarters here in Washington, D.C., will move into new digs in the historic Watergate complex on December 9.

While we’re sad to be leaving our beloved and time-honored spot in Dupont Circle at 1785 Massachusetts Ave. (which we sold to the American Enterprise Institute this past June), it’s our hope that our new open-space environment at the Watergate will allow us to work collaboratively, think creatively, and continue to live up to our mission of saving and rejuvenating important historic places.

One of many Modernist details at the Watergate. Credit: Hembo Pagi, Flickr
One of many Modernist details on the Watergate buildings

In addition to its state-of-the-art appeal, the Watergate’s rich past is obviously part of what attracted us to the space in the first place. While you’re probably familiar with the complex's role in the notorious presidential scandal (the break-in occurred on the sixth floor of the building we’ll inhabit), what you might not know is that the five-building development is also one of Washington’s finest examples of Modern architecture.

Named for the terraced steps west of the Lincoln Memorial that lead down to the Potomac River, the Watergate complex was designed by Italian architect Luigi Moretti, with landscapes by noted DC-based landscape architect Boris Timchenko. The structures were built between 1965 and 1971, and all five were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

The National Trust will be on floors 10 and 11 of the Virginia Avenue office building. Credit: wallyg, Flickr
The National Trust will be on floors 10 and 11 of the Virginia Avenue office building.

Our new office offers plenty for even the non history-crazed to be excited about. While some of us are thrilled about the panoramic views of Georgetown and the Potomac River afforded by our space on the 10th and 11th floors of the Virginia Avenue office building, others are looking forward to new amenities such as an internal curved staircase that will make it easier to move in between the two floors.

In addition, we’ll have a board room, meeting spaces, and breakout rooms named for and designed in honor of National Treasures, National Trust historic sites, and local preservationists. And in terms of neighbors, we’ll be adjacent to the Kennedy Center and the embassy of Saudi Arabia, as well as the Foggy Bottom neighborhood and the campus of The George Washington University.

Again, our first official day in our new office will be Monday, December 9. (Check out our new contact information.) We hope you'll stop by soon!

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National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

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5 Responses

  1. Peter Lacovara

    December 5, 2013

    Are you nuts? You are leaving a lovely, historic building for this monstrosity notable only for its association with political scandal?

  2. Chris Wigren

    December 9, 2013

    Too bad the Trust missed an opportunity to put its money where its mouth is and support revitalization in an historic main street-type district. The Watergate doesn’t need the support. It’s also not very easy to get to from public transportation.

  3. Terry Profilet Constable

    December 11, 2013

    I worked at the Trust from 1972-1992 so was involved in the move from Decatur House and adjacent office buildings. A key memory for me at Decatur House is the day in August 1974 when Nixon left the White House and people were flooding through Lafayette Square to go to the White House fences to watch his departure. Jimmy Biddle was president; Michael Ainslie was next. Then Jack Walter and Richard Moe. Many memories of friends and fun and hard work at 1785.

  4. Jerry A. McCoy

    December 11, 2013

    I agree completely with Mr. Wigren. There are no shortage of historic buildings in DC proper that are in need of adaptive reuse for which the NTHP’s tenancy would have been a God send. You can put as much “supporting Mid-Century architecture” spin as you want on the location you chose for your move but this long-time member remains greatly disappointed.

  5. PresNation

    December 12, 2013

    Hi Peter, Chris, and Jerry –

    Thank you for your comments about the move. We agree, there is no shortage of historic places in DC that deserve love and attention. We chose the Watergate because it fit our distinct organizational needs while also demonstrating our commitment to a class of historic resource that’s particularly struggling right now – Modernism + Recent Past.

    We’re now in a better position to help all historic places from our new headquarters, and we look forward to doing so!

    Let me know if you have any specific questions — I’m happy to help answer them where possible.

    Best,
    Julia Rocchi
    Associate Director, Digital Content