The Associated Press
The Associated Press
NORMAN — Demolition considered for headquarters
WASHINGTON — Just six blocks from the White House, the FBI’s hulking headquarters overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue has long been the government building everyone loves to hate. The verdict: It’s an ugly, crumbling concrete behemoth, an architectural mishap — all 2.4 million square feet of it.
But in this time of tight budgets, massive deficits and the “fiscal cliff,” the 38-year-old FBI headquarters building has one big thing in its favor.
It sits atop very valuable real estate, an entire city block on America’s Main Street, midway between the U.S. Capitol and the White House. Just how valuable? The General Services Administration intends to find out.
This past week, the agency that oversees all federal buildings issued an invitation to developers: How would you like to build a new headquarters for the FBI in a different location? In exchange, we’ll consider throwing in the J. Edgar Hoover building and the underlying land as part of the transaction.
“We’re testing the marketplace,” the GSA’s acting administrator, Dan Tangherlini, said in an interview. “We think we have very valuable property. How much is it worth?” Tangherlini wants to see if it could be traded for a property that better meets current needs.
The finish line is still a long way off. But in perhaps seven years, according to an estimate last year by the Government Accountability Office, the FBI could be in a new home at a fresh location in Washington or one of its surrounding counties.
The J. Edgar Hoover building may not be praised as architecture, but the current building has become part of American culture.
Half a million visitors a year took the FBI tour. The bureau even met with Walt Disney executives to see how Disney’s operation handled big crowds. People on the tour sometimes recognized faces on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted exhibit and tipped off agents. The tours ended when the bureau moved its laboratory, a highlight of the tour, to its training center in Quantico, Va.
Over the years, the building cropped up in news broadcasts, novels, television dramas and movies. “Arlington Road,” a fictional 1999 movie about domestic terrorists, ended with a shot, produced by Hollywood’s imaging magic, of the structure being blown to bits by a truck bomb.
What will really happen to the Hoover building? If last year’s report from the GAO, Congress’ investigative arm, is any indication, a developer might want to knock it down and start over.
That report displayed photographs of concrete facing that came loose and had to be removed from the building’s exterior. Another problem: Rainwater runoff infiltrated the basement. Solution: The FBI jury-rigged a plastic chute that directed the rainwater into a recycling bin.
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