Monument To Reagan: A Huge Building Full Of Bureaucrats, Tree-Huggers

SUNDAY, JULY 20, 1997

Wasn’t it President Reagan who said, “Once you’ve seen one redwood, you’ve seen them all?”

The same President Reagan who was the scourge of big government and all those fussy regulators whose “interference in our lives,” he said, “tends to discourage creativity and enterprise?”

Now Washington has named a government building after him. Only the Pentagon is bigger.

And guess who will be working inside?

Regulators, including lots of tree-huggers from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, eventually to be home to 7,000 federal workers, has 3.1 million square feet of space. That’s less than half the size of the Pentagon, but still bigger than New York’s Empire State Building, a mere 2.1 million square feet.

Put another way, imagine a two-lane highway, 106 miles long. That’s how much concrete was poured to the building immortalizing the 40th president.

“It’s not Mount Rushmore, but it’s a big building,” said Robert C. Hixon Jr., project executive for the General Services Administration, the building’s landlord.

Big enough to house the EPA, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Customs Service and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars when everybody is moved in by the year 2000.

Besides warren after warren of federal offices, U.S. and foreign corporations also can lease space to promote trade. The International Trade Center will provide conference rooms, auditoriums and ballrooms.

Plus there’ll be a food court, cafes and a chic restaurant. And 85 elevators, underground parking for nearly 2,000 cars and a network of tunnels.

Everything about the building is outsized, from its $738 million cost to the 65 million-year-old mammoth hunk of petrified wood uncovered during the excavation.

“It is huge,” Hixon said. “It’s just like you put a zero behind every number over what you’re normally used to. You say, ‘OK, we’ve got 22,000 square feet on the floor. No, no. We’ve got 220,000 square feet on the floor.”’


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