The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) – an independent, nonpartisan organization created and funded by Congress to prevent and resolve violent international conflicts – has announced that it will open its new building to the public in September of 2011. Designed by Moshe Safdie, the $186 million project is a public-private partnership that will significantly increase USIP’s programming and its work on behalf of the American people to advance international peacebuilding.
This will be the first time in its 26-year history that USIP will have a permanent home designed specifically to support its critical mission of international conflict management. USIP’s new building, at the northwest corner of the National Mall, is a dynamic symbol of America’s aspiration to work for peace. It embodies the message that peacemaking is possible and that efforts to advance conflict management education and training now have a prominent place in Washington, D.C.
As the nature of international conflict changes in the post-Cold War, post-9/11 world, there is a critical need for USIP’s expertise in developing and implementing strategies to prevent conflicts from turning violent, to resolve situations where violence has erupted, and to bring stability to countries devastated by war. Transforming research in conflict management techniques into practice, and educating the public and professionals on how to respond to international challenges, USIP has established itself as a leader in the field of international peacebuilding, using its convening power to bring together diverse stakeholders and many different perspectives.
“USIP is a center of innovation, a catalyst for change – conducting original research, training professionals, developing innovative new tools, and bringing together the key players who work to prevent, manage and resolve international violence,” said USIP President Richard H. Solomon. “The design of the new building embodies the open, transparent and inclusionary nature of peacebuilding. It expresses the aspiration of creating a more peaceful world, and our work is designed to fulfill that goal.”
“We live in an ever-changing world and are constantly facing new challenges to our national security and global stability,” said J. Robinson West, chairman of the board of directors of the Institute. “The world faces new demands and USIP is committed to remaining at the forefront of innovative thinking and problem solving to meet these growing needs. This building broadens USIP’s reach and expands the work of the United States Institute of Peace.”
Organizing its work under the rubric of “think, act, teach and train,” USIP combines original research and strategy development with on-the-ground efforts in zones of conflict around the world. The new facility gives USIP the state-of-the-art technology and resources required to enhance its role as a convener of individuals and organizations concerned with peacebuilding, creator of innovative ideas, and trainer of current and future generations of practitioners – including members of the U.S. military, government and civilian professionals in this country and abroad, and humanitarian assistance and other nongovernmental organizations. The new facility will enable USIP to expand its outreach to educators, students and young people around the world, as well as to provide educational resources and public exhibitions on issues of international conflict management.
Architecture and Design
The Institutes of Peace’s new facility faces the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and is within sight of the Lincoln, World War II, Korean, and Vietnam Veterans memorials. The building is organized around two atria, once facing the Potomac River, the other the Mall and the Lincoln Memorial. The north atrium serves as the centerpiece for the spaces devoted to the organization’s work and research, and the south-facing atrium is focused on public programs and conferences. The roof of the building features a series of undulating, wing-like elements constructed of steel frame and white translucent glass. The glass appears opaque and white during the day and glows gently from within at night.
Surrounded by an open plaza and garden, the public entrance at the corner of Constitution Avenue will lead visitors into an educational space and Great Hall enclosed by a glass curtain wall that looks out onto the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial. The Great Hall, surrounded by three stories of working spaces with floor to ceiling windows looking onto the interior of the building, allows the public to see activity taking place.
About the Building
Since its founding in 1984, USIP has operated in commercial facilities lacking the infrastructure and communications capacity to fully realize its Congressionally mandated mission. The new 150,000 square-foot, five-story building (which includes space for underground parking) will feature:
About Moshe Safdie
Moshe Safdie is a leading architect, urban planner, educator, theorist and author. Embracing a comprehensive and humane design philosophy, Safdie has been influential in architecture and urban planning for over 40 years. He is committed to architecture that supports and enhances a project’s program; that is informed by the geographic, social and cultural elements that define a place; and that responds to human needs and aspirations. Completing a wide range of projects, such as cultural, educational and civic institutions; neighborhoods and public parks; mixed-use urban centers and airports; and master plans for existing communities and entirely new cities, Safdie has enhanced the quality of life in cities and neighborhoods around the world.
Moshe Safide’s recently realized and current projects include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in Washington, D.C. (May 2008); Mamilla Alrov Center, Jerusalem, Israel (January 2010); Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, Singapore (December 2010); Khalsa Heritage Centre, a new center for the Sikh people located in the state of Punjab, India (April 2011); Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri (2011); and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas (2011). Based in Boston, the firm of Safdie Architects also has branch offices in Toronto, Jerusalem, and Singapore.