One of the last available spots along Constitution Avenue will be the new home of the multi-million dollar headquarters for the United States Institute of Peace.
The USIP building, which is funded by $100 million from Congress and $85 million from private sources, is set for completion in 2010. The institute is a nonpartisan, federally funded organization devoted to preventing and resolving violent international conflicts. Construction of the building began this summer at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue.
The new building, which will replace their temporary offices at 1200 17th St., will house a training facility for conflict managers and a public education center with interactive exhibits. It will be the first permanent headquarters for the USIP since its inception in 1984.
Lauren Sucher, a USIP spokesperson, said the new location’s close proximity to campus might promote student presence at USIP events because it is one of the only places a student can “walk up to the mike and ask the secretary of state a question.”
The institute already has numerous ties to the University. George E. Moose, USIP board member and former ambassador, is an adjunct professor of international affairs, and Pamela Aall, vice president for domestic programs at the USIP Education and Training Center, is a part-time lecturer at the Elliott School of International Affairs.
Alhough the USIP is not permitted to have interns or volunteers, they do hire graduate students as research assistants and visiting fellows.
Already operating in some of the world’s most tumultuous areas – including Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan – USIP will use this central location in the nation’s capital to raise awareness for their programs and further their research.
Sucher said it was ironic yet fitting that the new headquarters will be so close to monuments that memorialize conflicts like Korean and Vietnam Wars.
“It is appropriate for us to be located there as a reminder of the consequences of not being active peacemakers,” she said. “Our job is to prevent memorials like those from needing to be erected.”
The new building’s 20,000-square-foot Public Education Center will offer visitors the opportunity to learn more about the Institute of Peace. Future multimedia exhibits include “witness stations,” which will play first-person narratives of people affected by conflicts, interactive touch-screen maps, a “peace lab,” where visitors can decide which paths they should take for conflict resolution and a space for silent reflection.
“So many museums are about the past, with static pictures on the wall passively presenting you with information,” Sucher said. “We want to produce concepts in (visitors’) minds.”
Admission to the Public Education Center will be free.
This article appeared in the September 4, 2008 issue of the Hatchet.