Ronald Reagan Building

Coordinates: 38°53′38″N 77°1′51″W / 38.89389°N 77.03083°W / 38.89389; -77.03083 The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, named after former United States President Ronald Reagan, is the first federal building in Washington, D.C. designed for both governmental and private sector purposes.

Each of the organizations located in the Pennsylvania Avenue building are dedicated to international trade and globalization. Organizations headquartered in this building include the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The first private sector lease was signed with investment banking firm Quarterdeck Investment Partners, Inc. The building hosts conferences, trade shows, cultural events, and outdoor concerts. However, post-9/11 security requirements for high-profile federal buildings have limited the extent of the public/private access anticipated by its designers.


The building is located near the Federal Triangle Metro station in Washington, an area once populated heavily with saloons and brothels. The federal government purchased the land in the 1920s, and it was to be part of the Federal Triangle redevelopment of the late 1920s and 1930s. Until development on the current building began, the area known as the "Great Plaza" was used as a massive downtown parking lot.

In 1987, the U.S. Congress passed the Federal Triangle Development Act, authorizing a Federal building complex and international cultural and trade center to complete the redevelopment of Pennsylvania Avenue. The Act specified that the building "reflect the symbolic importance and historic character of Pennsylvania Avenue and the nation's capital" and "represent the dignity and stability of the Federal Government." The law realized President John F. Kennedy's goal of revitalizing Pennsylvania Avenue.

Under the direction of the U.S. General Services Administration and the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, architectural firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners of New York, in association with D.C. architects Ellerbe Becket, were selected as the building architects in 1989. The building was designed by James Ingo Freed of Pei Cobb Freed. Construction began in 1990. The building is located in front of the Oscar Straus Memorial.

In 1995, the Congress voted unanimously to name the building after President Ronald Reagan, who had signed the legislation authorizing its construction. Three years later, the building was officially dedicated on May 5, 1998. At the time it was built, the Ronald Reagan Building was the most expensive federal building ever constructed, at a cost of $768 million. As a federal office building, it is second in size only to the Pentagon. Its naming was controversial, because Ronald Reagan was considered to be a champion of small government and the building was seen by some as an example of "big government" and government waste.


The conference center hosts over 1,200 events each year, including many of Washington's annual social galas such as the Washington International Trade Association's Annual Dinner, and formerly including the Conservative Political Action Conference. The International Trade Center offers two large ballrooms, exhibition space, pre-function space, and other reception spaces. The outdoor, four-acre Woodrow Wilson Plaza is also used in special events and galas.

With the city's largest parking garage, information center, and a metro rail station, the building is visited by over one million tourists each year. The summer concert series held on the Woodrow Wilson Plaza and the many food options draw many to the building during the lunch hour.


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