FDA Building 1, Silver Spring, MD
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A crucial part of the U.S. FDA’s $1.4 billion Consolidation Project, Building 1 (formerly known as the Naval Ordinance Laboratory) is a 4-story, 102,000-square-foot facility that was completely gutted and transformed into the FDA’s Office of the Commissioner, and serves as the gateway to the rest of the FDA campus.
The design goal was to restore Building 1 to the focal point, symbolic center, and front door of the new FDA campus. A balance was needed to respect the historic building while making it clear that it has a new purpose. The restoration brings the exterior façades, historic lobby, monumental stairs, and conference rooms to original condition. Asbestos-laden window glazing and caulk meant that the windows needed to be replaced with similar windows vs. being restored, but every attempt was made to make the windows as close to the originals as possible.
Every building on the FDA campus is connected to its neighbor by bridges at the second-story level. At Building 1, an aesthetic challenge occurred with the connector bridge. “This connector link is a 3-story atrium constructed with two steel V-trusses, curtainwall façades, terrazzo flooring, and a 3-story limestone wall. On top of this connector link is the mechanical penthouse for Building 1. Although not very big, there was a great deal of work that had to be coordinated and put into place under a very compressed schedule,” says Tishman’s Ken Harris, project director.
A large room was created for security screening that integrates a vehicle security barrier without detracting from the historic building. New mechanical systems were also integrated without detracting from appearance.
Getting started on this historic renovation was a challenge. To obtain the necessary permits, the team coordinated with the National Capital Planning Commission, the GSA’s Preservation Committee, and the Maryland Department of Historic Preservation. These agencies all emphasized that the design and construction had to keep the building intact. Because three historic preservation commissions were involved, the building wasn’t released for work until November 2007, and it opened for occupants in December 2008.