United States Institute of Peace, Washington DCWe had planned to get on the road early yesterday afternoon but we ended up leaving Williamsburg around 5 p.m., about the same time everyone else coming home from everywhere decided to leave.  The traffic was terrible, and after 6 hours of driving we had gone as far as Elkton, Maryland and couldn’t stay in the car for one more mile.

For some reason, every single time I try to go through Washington DC I get lost.  I’m usually good at navigating…I have maps, directions for each leg of our trip printed from Google Maps, and a GPS on my Blackberry along with a spare TomTom.  But DC always gets me.  So when the little blue arrow ran off from the purple line, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to go visit the site of one of my projects, the United States Institute of Peace.

The USIP headquarters is under construction on the last available building site on the Washington Mall, and the architect is Moshe Safdie Associates.  It was a challenging hardware spec to write because the security and egress requirements were often in direct conflict with each other, and there were very specific aesthetic requirements along with the functional requirements of the facility.  During one of our many meetings the architect called me the “Anti-Fairy Godmother” and told me that I was ruining his whole design.  I am very proud to say that we eventually found compromises that everyone was happy with, for example, using Von Duprin QEL devices on fire-rated auditorium doors so door pulls could be used instead of lever handles.  I created a presentation for CSI about the challenges of specifying the hardware for the USIP project, and it was a lot of fun to go back and present it for the design team at MSA.

It was too dark to take any photos last night, but the USIP has a website dedicated to the construction of their new building. You can even look at a webcam to see how the construction is progressing!

Renderings courtesy of the United States Institute of Peace.

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