United States Institute of Peace Headquarters
Project Title
United States Institute of Peace Headquarters
Located at the corner of 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C., the United States Institute of Peace Headquarters occupies the northwest corner of the National Mall, in sight of the Lincoln Memorial. As the organization’s first permanent home, the institute’s headquarters is specifically designed to support the critical mission of international conflict management. The program encompasses administrative offices, research facilities including a library and an archive, a conference and negotiation center, and an interactive educational center dedicated to the theme of peacemaking.

The architectural concept derives from an extensive exploration of both free-flowing shapes and more mathematical geometries defined by spheres and toroids, which finally resulted in a highly rational series of spherical and toroidal segments. The building is organized around two atria fanning out from a corner entrance—with one atrium facing the Potomac River and the other facing the Mall and the Lincoln Memorial. The first atrium serves as the centerpiece for the spaces devoted to scholarly research, while the second focuses on public activity and conferences. The image of the building characterizes the institute’s purpose and symbolically represents peace on the capital’s skyline. The atria are roofed by a series of undulating spherical and toroidal winglike elements that are constructed of a steel frame and white glass with an interior translucent white membrane.

The glass roofs appear opaque and white on the exterior during the day and glow with white light from within at night—visible among the monuments of the National Mall as well as from the city’s western entry across the bridges from Virginia.

Images on this page: 1 View of south façade; 2 Site view; 3 South façade at dusk; 4 Interior view; 5 Site section; 6 Generative spherical and toroidal geometry studies; 7 Level plan; 8 Concept sketch; 9 Roof concept sketches; 10 Rendering sketch

Washington, D.C., United States of America

between 2001 and 2009
Completion Date
Client: United States Institute of Peace;

Cost: US $110 million;

Size: 13,935 sq m (150,000 sq ft)

Competition: Won

Project Type
Safdie Architects
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