Essential Architecture- Washington D.C.

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade


Pei Cobb Freed & Partners


Washington, DC






limestone cladding



The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, named after Ronald Reagan the 40th President of the United States, is the first federal building in Washington, D.C. designed for both governmental and private sector purposes. Each of the organizations which call this 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW building home are dedicated to international trade and globalization. Organizations headquartered in this building include the U.S. Agency for International Development, Customs and Border Patrol offices of the Department of Homeland Security, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars among others. The building also hosts many conferences and trade shows, cultural events, and outdoor concerts.

The building is located above the Federal Triangle Metro station at what was once known as the "plague spot" in Washington, an area once populated heavily with saloons and brothels. The federal government purchased the land in the 1920s and was to be part of the Federal Triangle redevelopment in the late 20's through mid 30's. Until development began on the current building in 1996, this area known as the 'Great Plaza' was used as a massive downtown parking lot. The building, designed by James Ingo Freed of the architectural firm Pei, Cobb, Freed and Partners and Ellerbe Becket, is located in front of the Oscar Straus Memorial.

At the time it was built, the Ronald Reagan Building was the most expensive federal building ever constructed. The total cost was $768 million. As a Federal office building, it is second in size only to the Pentagon. It's naming caused some controversy, as Ronald Reagan was considered by some to be a champion of small government and this building was seen by some as an example of government waste.[1] Initially viewed as an incredible waste of taxpayer resources, the project is now viewed by many as a good investment and the catalyst for an incredible hub of activity.[citation needed] The conference center hosts over 1200 events each year, including many of Washington's distinguished annual social galas. With the city's largest parking garage and a metro rail station, the building is visited by over 1 million tourists each year as well. The summer concert series held on the Woodrow Wilson Plaza and the many food options draw many to the building during the lunch hour as well.


Official Website of the Ronald Reagan Building