By Southwester Staff
Southwest will soon welcome two well-known DC institutions into its neighborhood: The Smithsonian Headquarters, which has been occupying some office space down here for a while, and the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority’s headquarters, known fondly as WMATA.
The Smithsonian is moving its headquarters from the iconic castle, its oldest building constructed in 1855, to 600 Maryland Ave. SW—right next to L’Enfant Plaza (with metro access), while its 17-acre property on the Mall undergoes a potential 20-30 year long renovation project estimated at $2bn.
The process began in 2012 and imagines a complete overhaul of several buildings, including a new Mall-facing entrance for the National Museum of African Art and Freer Sackler Gallery, seismic reinforcement, updated mechanical systems, improved visibility and access to the Hirshhorn and sculpture gardens, expanded visitor services (including retail), among other things. The staff will start the move between 2020-2021. You can find out more here: https://www.southmallcampus.si.edu/project-overview.html.
They come in pairs. WMATA is also making the move down to SW and will leave the “brutalist” confines of the Jackson Graham building at 600 Fifth St. NW in Penn Quarter. This move comes astride an effort to rein in its sprawling office space “footprint” from 10 buildings, spread across the District, Virginia, and Maryland, to just three. WMATA plans to have their current, outdated space renovated and sold sometime next year.
WMATA’s new home at 300 Seventh St. SW (also not far from the metro, the Virginia Railway Express, and several bus lines) will get a serious makeover by replacing its current facade of low-light windows with lots of glass, along with possibly three additional floors, a penthouse (for extra revenue), and some ground floor retail. Ostensibly, the new facility will be a third smaller than the current building and be built to LEED-Gold sustainability.
The 1300 employees currently housed at the old JG building will be disbursed amongst the remaining three facilities, with 1000 heading to SW and the rest going to the Virginia and Maryland offices.
Welcome to the neighborhood!