U.S. General Services Administration/National Capital Region
HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE
As the General Services Administration (GSA) celebrates it's 50th anniversary, the National Capital Region (NCR) is committed to preserving and enhancing its inventory of over 70 historic structures and associated art collection of over 365 works. These buildings and artworks represent the past, contribute to their surroundings, and provide quality space for tenants. Preservation is a crucial GSA function because half of the owned buildings are historic and NCR has taken a leadership role in using and caring for historic properties. Stewardship is part of public service.
As part of Portfolio Management, the Historic Preservation Office influences projects and design decisions as they relate to historic preservation throughout the region. The staff helps the agency make informed decisions about its cultural assets. They strive to preserve the original fabric of the buildings, to improve the relationship between design and quality construction, and insure that building projects comply with federal preservation laws and standards. Numerous preservation and conservation awards reflect its strong leadership and technical skills.
The following successful NCR projects show sustained commitment to distinguished preservation projects:
- Old Post Office Pavilion The 1981 mixed-use redevelopment received several honor awards including a Merit Award from the American Institute of Architects.
- Pension Building A successful rehabilitation project of a National Historic Landmark for the National Building Museum, transforming the building into a state-of-the-art museum.
- Ariel Rios Federal Building (New Post Office) The modernization will upgrade this 1930s Federal Triangle building to conform to current standards, while it preserves and restores historically significant features, including conserving murals and sculpture.
- Clara Barton Building The preservation challenge at Parcel 457C is the discovery of Civil War nurse Clara Barton's office/apartment. Until GSA's discovery, this building was slated for demolition. Now NCR plans include retention and restoration of the building.
- General Post Office (Tariff Building) Significant as GSA's first use of Section 111 of the National Historic Preservation Act to outlease a surplus building for renovation, this serves as a model for redevelopment as a preservation tool and formation of a public/private partnership to protect a National Historic Landmark.
With the challenge of managing a large cultural assets portfolio, the Historic Preservation Office has developed numerous technical preservation initiatives and design innovations, high conservation standards, streamlined procedures, outstanding customer service, and up to date publications.
- Architectural conservators, working with the NCR Service Delivery Teams responsible for property management, provide expertise in preservation to support design and construction activity that affects the historic structures, bringing preservation issues to the forefront of projects.
- NCR developed an Integrated Arts Services Contract, the first multiple skill conservation contract of its kind in the nation, providing maintenance and repair services for artworks.
- The Preservation Office created a Preservation Project Database that provides project information and preservation/maintenance history.
- The Preservation Note series, published on the web, disseminates technical information and addresses questions relating to cultural asset management.
- To ensure the quality and cost effectiveness of design and construction work, the NCR created the Competency of Bidder and Historic Preservation Team Member Specifications for contracting. These ensure quality contractors work to improve the preservation product.
- The Preservation Office created a model scope of work, consultant qualification criteria, and standardized project documentation requirements to ensure that Federal stewardship responsibilities are easily met.
The Preservation Office has a responsibility to educate GSA staff involved in decisions affecting historic properties about federal preservation regulations and procedures, and resources available for planning projects to maintain, repair, restore, or alter historic property.
- Training and information on preservation law, procedures, and resources are offered to everyone involved in decisions affecting historic properties. Meetings, consultations, training sessions, lectures, and tours are held. The technical preservation library is available.
- Historic Structure Reports and Historic Building Preservation Plans are prepared for the historic buildings to guide the agency in its decisions.
- The Preservation Office developed this web site containing its preservation information and web sites for its redevelopment parcels to stimulate interest in the projects.
- Educational initiatives reach beyond GSA and extend to other federal agencies, preservation professionals, contractors, and the public. Lectures, tours, participation in conferences, publications, and production of a preservation video all further preservation efforts.
PUBLIC OUTREACH IN THE COMMUNITY
NCR has promoted preservation to improve the areas around federal buildings, looking beyond caring for its own portfolio to support the surrounding communities. These examples of public/private partnership illustrate model projects for urban areas and promote preservation as a means to minimize cost and maximize benefit to the community.
- Availability to the public is important. A majority of the Region's historic buildings are accessible to the public and every effort is made to foster public and tenant appreciation through exhibits and a new First Impressions initiative.
- The federal government's investment in the Development of Parcel 457 C in the District of Columbia has helped to create a new neighborhood known as the Penn Quarter. This urban area will be revitalized with a mix of residential units and retail and arts spaces.
- The Good Neighbor Program links GSA with other federal agencies, cities, and community groups. As partners, they work together to provide safe, lively public environments in the neighborhoods around federal buildings. Examples in NCR include the Pension Building, Old Post Office, Penn Quarter, and Tariff Building.
- The NCR is also partnering with the Washington Business Improvement District addressing signage, parking, security, and landscaping to improve the urban environment, revitalize communities, and attract people to downtown.
The National Capital Region's Historic Preservation Office has a long-standing record of outstanding preservation accomplishments and is recognized as a national leader in the field.
Historic Preservation Staff
Portfolio Management, Room 7600
7th and D Streets, SW
Washington, DC 20407