WJE Provides Expert Services for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Headquarters

March 10, 2009
WJE was recently retained by Perkins & Will on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a Historic Structures Report for their new headquarters on St. Elizabeths campus in Washington DC. A National Historic Landmark, St. Elizabeths was established by Congress in 1855 as the Government Hospital for the Insane. In 1916, Congress officially changed the name of the facility to St. Elizabeths Hospital.

St. Elizabeths is divided into two campuses. The west campus is owned by the federal government and is under the custody and control of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). The east campus, separated by Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, is owned by the District of Columbia and still functions as a mental health facility. The DHS consolidation of fourteen thousand employees in 4.5 million gross square feet of office space on the west campus will rehabilitate and reuse the majority of the contributing buildings while infusing new development within the historic context.

Through GSA Design Excellence and Construction Excellence programs, $3.4 billion will be awarded in three major design phases. Perkins & Will, a firm that is currently developing design concepts for the first phase, recently retained WJE to prepare a Historic Structures Report for the newly proposed U.S. Coast Guard headquarters located on campus. Under its plan, GSA anticipates the first Federal tenant to move in to the property by 2010.

The need for a Historic Structure Report and Preservation Plan is based on the understanding that each historic property represents a unique and irreplaceable resource. In too many cases, well intentioned restoration or other construction efforts destroy or obscure the historic character and physical evidence or present a false sense of a property's past. Once developed, WJE's Historic Structure Report and Preservation Plan will provide a forum to address changes to the campus during the planning process; to explore alternative plans of action; and minimize loss, damage, or irreversible adverse effects on historic fabric.

1. Tom Grooms, "Design Excellence and the Arts Winter 2009," GSA Office of the Chief Architect e-news (2009), 1-2.
2. Dominique Hawkins, "Historic Structures Reports & Preservation Plans," A Preparation Guide Prepared for the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Natural & Historic Resources (2007), 6.

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