Preservationists encourage "adaptive reuse" of historic buildings, and the US Institute of Peace is fulfilliing that mission with a strikingly different reuse plan for two century-old former hospital buildings on the grounds of the old Naval Observatory and recently closed Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery - a landmarked complex west of 23rd Street and north of Constitution Avenue.
The institute presented plans to the US Commission of Fine Arts on June 18 for rehabilitating the two historic buildings and attaching them via a glassy walkway to its modern headquarters overlooking the Potomac River in Foggy Bottom. The repurposing will create additional space for training Americans and foreign partners in what the institute calls "peace building."
Under the plan, the now-vacant "Contagious Ward," built in 1903 to 1908, will be used "to each effective conflict prevention and management skills" to foreign and domestic government officials, as well as "other professionals working for pace in conflict zones," according to institute spokesperson Allison Sturma. The old three-story hospital building will also be used for expanded online education and training, Sturma said.
And the former "Male Nurses' Residence," another Georgian Revival building of the same vintage, will house the PeaceTech Lab, which will work "at the intersection of technology, media and data to help reduce violent conflict around the world," according to Sturma.
USIP was rated as the 22nd best think tank in the United States by the 2015 University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings. It was also ranked as the world's 12th best government-affiliated think tank.