Happy New Year! We’re kicking off 2017 by revisiting a bit of AGU’s history. In preparation for the move out of American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) headquarters at 2000 Florida Avenue and the start of renovation construction, we’re taking this chance to look back at the history of our much beloved building.
AGU has been based in Washington, D.C., since its formation in 1919, and situated at our current location for nearly 40 years.
We first purchased an eight-story building on the lot in 1979. Eleven years later, AGU’s Council decided to construct a new five-story building in place of the old building—that new building, our existing building, was completed in June 1994. We’re now renovating the 1994 building to meet net-zero energy goals.
“AGU’s new headquarters building is both rock solid and dynamic. It is a home for the geophysical sciences in Washington, D.C. and a visual expression of the irresistible forces of nature.” – AGU Handbook, A Supplement to Eos, 1995
Read a little about the building’s original construction:
A Building Design Representative of Earth and Space Science
The 1994 building was designed by architect Shalom Baranes Associates as a visual representation of AGU’s various scientific disciplines. On the exterior of the building, the most recognizable feature is the building’s glass “prow” suggesting both a crystalline structure and a ship’s prow. Bands of Pennsylvania limestone and brick along the façade represent changes in the Earth’s core and a frieze along the building represents space, the atmosphere, solid Earth, and the hydrosphere.
Embedded in the sidewalks on 20th Street and Florida Avenue is a scale representation of the planets and their orbits around the Sun, marked in brass and marble with a point representing the Sun in the plaza below the building’s prow.
Within the building’s lobby are other elements including sapeli mahogany paneling with a pattern signifying waves on a seismogram and as well as a large piece of petrified wood from Arizona serving double-duty as the reception desk.
Many of these iconic elements will be preserved during the renovation or reused in other unique ways. Learn more about AGU’s history here.