ronald reagan, architecture, washington, dc, thinking insomniac, vernelle noel

Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC

I did this drawing of the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC in Summer 2003. This building was designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners in association with Ellerbe Becket Architects & Engineers and completed in 1998.

The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center was designed to complete and augment the 70-acre wedge of government offices known as Federal Triangle. It occupies the last open site on Pennsylvania Avenue (a former parking lot two blocks from the White House) where construction was halted by the Depression. The building was designed to complement its historic context in materials and scale yet its architectural strategy is modern. It articulates structure and creates significant public spaces while fulfilling an extraordinarily rich mixed-use program of government offices, private businesses and public amenities.  At 3.7 million s/f, the RRB/ITC is second only to the Pentagon as the largest federal building ever undertaken.

The design’s pronounced diagonal geometry is a direct response to Pennsylvania Avenue, which here bends east toward the Capitol. The building meets the Avenue at 90° and hinges back from a corner Rotunda to symbolically turn the street into the site. People are invited to enter a large outdoor plaza and to continue inside where a skylit conical space and public concourse offer retail, dining and vital connections to mass transit and neighboring buildings. In the seemingly impenetrable wall of government buildings that separates downtown from ceremonial Washington, the Reagan Building emphasizes access and permeability. It is both a destination and a public link to the nation’s Mall, its monuments and museums.

Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

The building has a granite base with an exterior built with 42,000 slabs of limestone from the same Indiana quarry as other Federal Triangle buildings and is covered with five acres of terra-cotta roof tiles. The airy atrium is 125 feet high and contains 1,240 pieces of glass. Tunnels connect the building to the Federal Triangle Metro stop, as well as to the neighboring Department of Commerce.

At the Center of Washington’s Business, Social Worlds: Reagan Building Looming Large in City by Natalia A. Feduschak

“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” – Bernice Johnson Reagon

Creative Commons License
This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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