...characterized by heavy, rough stone construction, round arches framing windows and doors that are cavernous in design, squat columns, towers..The building was the first government building to have its own electric power plant, and included a 99x184 foot glass-covered atrium.
..to encourage people to dream about their cities...to consider the alternatives before they tear them down...She also advised that it would cost $60 million to demolish the building, and only $30-40 to renovate it, and the decision was made to preserve the building. Preservation began in 1978, under the design of architect Arthur Cotton Moore, and was completed in 1983. With Ms. Hanks' leadership, the local group formed the DC Preservation League. Legislation was passed, also influenced by Ms. Hanks, to create federal/private partnerships to allow private businesses to occupy the same space as federal agencies. The Old Post Office became home to the Endowment, the League, several federal agencies, and businesses aimed at tourists. Operated by the Park Service, visitors can still access the clock tower and its panoramic views of the city, for free...for now.
That's all the good news. The building--on the National Register of Historic Places--loses about $6 million a year, and the federal government has decided to sell it (Jonathan O'Connell, Washington Post, 2012). General Services Administration sought proposals to redevelop the site, and the winning bid was Donald Trump with a plan to turn the building into a luxury hotel (O'Connell). As a nod to the building's history, Trump will include a "museum space" alongside the spa, restaurants, and luxury rooms. How exactly will they preserve a building, whilst turning it into a luxury hotel? That's what some other folks would like to know, too.
...a cross between a cathedral and a cotton mill. (Shultz)Although the historic qualities of the building have become appreciated since then--for one, it was the last major example of Richardsonian Romanesque to be constructed in DC--there is still reason for concern. I doubt anyone advocates continued operation of a project that loses six million dollars a year. On the other hand, exactly how many more luxury hotels does the city need? Currently, the building is open and available to the citizens and taxpayers who help to fund it, as well as home to businesses that pay rent. Converted to a luxury hotel, it will be off-limits to most of us. That does not seem like a good compromise for such a significant part of the history of our capital city.
While it still remains a national park, you can download the poster of the interior shown at the link above, and one of the exterior. Better get it while it's still free, and before the Old Post Office sign is replaced with Trump. Historic American Buildings Survey photographs are available at the link.