AFL-CIO Headquarters


AFL-CIO Headquarters

LocationWashington, DC
ServicesLandscape Architecture, Conceptual Design, Construction Documentation, Construction Administration
Site Area1.3 ac (0.5 ha)
Budget$400,000 USD
Date1997 - 2000

OCULUS transformed the 16th Street entrance to the AFL-CIO’s Washington, DC Headquarters from a vehicular driveway into a pedestrian-oriented, tree-lined plaza. The result is a civic space that welcomes visitors and creates a continuous pedestrian way south to St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square, and the north gate of the White House, while maintaining vehicular access with an improved and integrated motor court.

Prior to project improvements, the entrance to the building was located in the center of the building between the north and south building wings. The new design moved the building entrance and motor court to the north wing which left the remainder of the site (about 75% of the 16th street frontage) for a new public plaza space and gardens.

The site design responds directly to the form and rhythm of the historic 1956 building, complementing both the scale of the building and the cadence of the columns with correspondingly rhythmic walls, seating, and plantings. The improved public space is framed by a curved band of granite seating that echoes the rhythm of the building columns. The gesture of the curved band compliments the linearity of the building façade, gracefully opening up the plaza while the individual segments of the bench translate the larger scale of the building into a smaller scale element in the civic space. The plaza is further differentiated from the active vehicular zone through subtle gestures in paving and site furnishings.