March 12, 2013 Mid-Century Modern

Modern Snapshot: The Washington Post Buildings

Washington Post building sign

While recent stories about how the Washington Post is looking to sell its current home discussed the mid-century modern nature of the architecture, they did not discuss who designed the buildings or the interesting story of the headquarters that was never built. The original 1951 Post building at 1515 L St. was designed by the firm of Albert Kahn, who was the country’s foremost industrial architect of the early 20th century. He died nine years before the Post building was constructed.

1951 Washington Post Building

The original 1951 Washington Post building on L Street was designed by the firm of Albert Kahn a number years after master industrial architect died. Photos by Agustin Cruz.

In the 1960s, as the Graham family was looking to construct a new building at 1150 15 St., they paid I.M. Pei $2 million for a design. Pei came up with a building shaped like a typewriter, but it was never built. (Read Carol Felsenthal’s good piece on this here.) The current 1972 building was eventually designed by the same firm who designed the original building, Albert Kahn Associates.

Washington Post 15 Street Building

The 1972 Post building was also designed by Albert Kahn Associates.

With the location prime for redevelopment, local preservationists such as the D.C. Preservation League are raising concerns that the spot where the Watergate stories were produced could meet the wrecking ball.  Thanks to my friend Agustin Cruz for the pictures of the buildings.