Just a ten minute ride from downtown DC and some of of the most beautiful, classically-designed buildings in the United States, the Census Bureau’s headquarters has to be the ugliest building I’ve ever seen, and that includes prisons.
I took these photos because I could not believe how huge and ugly the Census Bureau’s office is. Even the long-abandon west campus of the Government Hospital for the Insane* (aka St. Elizabeth’s Hospital) in DC is better looking than the Census Bureau’s brand new building. The Census Bureau is actually located in the fenced and gated Suitland Federal Center just a few minutes outside of DC, in Suitland, MD.
There are just five photos posted here because you can only take so much ugly. If you think it’s depressing to look at the photos you should see it in real life. They would have to provide a daily dose of Paxil or Zoloft to get me to go through those gates every day. It’s hard to believe that your tax dollars paid for this hot mess.
What they call the front entrance is on one end of one of the buildings. It’s not really an entrance because to enter the building you have to pass through the guardhouse. From the front it doesn’t look huge, just ugly, but it extends back 1,100 feet. That’s twenty feet longer than 3 football fields, and there are 8 floors.
The Census Bureau’s headquarters is comprised of two huge separate buildings connected by an underground street. The underground street also serves as an access to the many amenities the building contains: gym, library, credit union, medical facilities, food storage pantries, conference center, and cafeteria, the Census Bureau is also served by the Suitland Metro stop. A seven hundred foot-long covered walkway connects the Metro stop directly to the Census Bureau building (If I worked for the Census Bureau I wouldn’t want anyone to see me going in or coming out either). There is also parking for 3,000 cars and 310 bike racks.
Apparently the amenities are all underground so when the Big One hits all the census workers can rush underground and enjoy themselves while they wait for the dust to clear so they can come out and count the bodies.
Construction started in 2001 and was completed in two phases—because there are two buildings—to the jingling of 331 million dollars.
This building, completed in 2007, is ugly enough to have been built in the 70′s. Although, when I was there (in June this year) there was still plenty of construction going on. I guess they’re digging an even bigger black hole to throw all your money into.
They say there is an 80 acre woodland view. There might be, somewhere. What I saw on at least 2 sides were strip malls across both streets and an enormous pile of earth (and I mean enormous, it blocked the view of the building from the street) in the parking lot inside the fence. Apparently that is what they meant by woodland view, there were two trees growing on it.
Eight stories and an area of 1,508,013 square feet of mud-hut ugly, this building has a curved, snake-like design ( how apropos) and snake-like bars that look like they are all side-winding up the building. Or they could be likened to the kind of sticks you see on mud huts in National Geographic.
OK, so they’ve been labeled “Woodland-facing facades” and they are supposed to act as sunshades, they still look like snakes. Is it possible that the whole thing was designed on a subconscious level?
What is more mind-boggling is that this monstrosity won 11 architectural awards between 2002 and 2009, which just proves that the Emperor still isn’t wearing any clothes.
* The Government Hospital for the Insane is about to be renovated and government offices are going to replace the autopsy amphitheatre, the therapy rooms (nothing like a tub full of ice to make you snap out of it, they should keep those)the med lockers(they should keep those too) and all the other amenities of the cloistered life of the insane. Uncle Sam should have saved himself 331 million dollars and simply moved the census bureau up the street to St. Elizabeth’s. Oh wait, both campuses wouldn’t be big enough to house all the census bureau inmates, uh, I mean workers.
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