National Park Service to Begin Hains Point Campus Renovation
Hains Point is the artificial island between the Potomac River and the Washington Channel in Southwest DC. Most DC area residents are familiar with the island as viewed from the 14th Street Bridge, which crosses over the western end of Hains Point. In 1963, the National Park Service (NPS) built headquarters for its National Capital Region (NCR) administrative department and United States Park Police (USPP) on Hains Point. The project was part of the NPS Mission 66 initiative, which sought to modernize and consolidate NPS administration and prepare federal parks for increased visitation during the post-World War II era. While most of the Mission 66 program was focused on National Park visitor centers, funding also was provided through the program for administrative offices, such as the NCR and USPP Headquarters. Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners completed plans for a renovation of the headquarters buildings in 2016 and NPS is currently mobilizing to start construction.
Prior to Mission 66, NPS buildings within the National Parks were limited to small, vernacular structures adjacent to privately funded hotels and concession facilities. There was no comprehensive national plan for visitor interpretation and park planning. Visits to National Parks significantly increased after World War II, requiring NPS to quickly build much needed facilities and roadways. In 1955, NPS Director Conrad L. Wirth began what would become the Mission 66 program, establishing regional offices to oversee all park improvement projects and securing funding from Congress for a 10-year construction campaign to modernize the National Parks. The name Mission 66 denotes the end date of the 10-year campaign, in 1966, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Park Service. From its inception, the Mission 66 program adhered to a modern design vocabulary, often incorporating or referencing natural materials and the individual setting of each park. Some of the most notable Mission 66 Visitor Centers are Zion National Park, Kitty Hawk Wright Brothers Memorial, and the Gettysburg Cyclorama (now demolished). The NPS Mission 66 Era properties were collectively added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.
Hains Point NCR & USPP Headquarters
The NCR and USPP Headquarters on Hains Point were constructed in 1963 as part of the Mission 66 program. In keeping with the Mission 66 aesthetic, the headquarters buildings were modern and incorporated natural elements and materials such as a fountain on the plaza and roughhewn bluestone flooring on the interior. The headquarters comprises two separate buildings that house the U.S. Park Police and the National Capitol Region. The two buildings are linked by an exterior breezeway. The NCR building is divided into three separate wings: The two original wings were built in an L-shape and are connected by a two-story, glass-walled lobby; in 1969, a one-story cafeteria and training wing was added to the NCR building. The original campus and the addition were designed by NPS architect William M. Haussmann.
The buildings employ a steel frame and are faced with yellow brick, Indiana limestone, and Vermont marble. Bays consisting of paired aluminum-framed windows with marble spandrels are separated by limestone fins or brick, giving the horizontal buildings a vertical dimension. The west façade of the training wing addition is a limestone wall with a pattern of projecting and receding rectangles arranged to give a diagonal emphasis to the wall surface. Haussmann envisioned open plan offices organized around central corridors. The original movable steel-and-glass partitions that defined offices and corridors are still largely intact. The renovation will modernize the existing facilities to increase energy efficiency and make better use of the existing space with an emphasis on providing as much flexibility as possible.
Learn more about Mission 66:
Online Book by NPS Historian Sarah Allaback: https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/allaback/
National Register Multiple Property Mission 66 Nomination: https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/64501248.pdf