For over 40 years now, the National Geographic Society’s headquarters has been located in Washington, D.C.’s Downtown. Visitors of the headquarters meet a 10-story office building and exhibition space made up of reinforced concrete, white marble, black granite, and dark glass. This building, while an example of D.C.’s prevalent glass-box architecture, may be worth taking an extra look or two.
Why? The D.C. Preservation League submitted a nomination to the D.C. Historic Preservation Office in order to designate the building, located at 1145 17th Street NW, a historic landmark.
According to the historic landmark nomination, the 1963-constructed building is significant in that it expresses the New Formalism architectural style. It was also designed by award-winning architect Edward Durell Stone, who is known for having designed the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Because the National Geographic Society utilizes the building as a headquarters, this also causes the building to have the potential to be nationally significant. The National Geographic Society is a prominent organization that was founded in January 1888 and today is one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations in the world.
When describing the building, the nomination reads:
“[The] National Geographic building conveys a uniform and symmetrical appearance, which, combined with its strong verticality and white marble, suggest a modern reinterpretation of earlier classical forms. The projecting roof and marble fins together create a ‘temple-like’ appearance, which is echoed in the projecting roof and colonnade of the first floor covered walkway.”
Curbed DC reached out the National Geographic Society for a statement, but did not receive a response by the time of this article’s publication.
For a look at the nomination, check out the document below.
Can’t see the document? Check it out on Scribd here.