Commercial Architecture May 2017 - 17
non-profit organization, NIGA lobbies Congress and presidential
administrations on legislative policies that affect Indian gaming
issues and tribal community development. To achieve these goals,
the organization needed to expand its physical operations. Its primary goal was to create a first-rate conference center that would allow tribes to converge and strategize on policy initiatives. Another
objective was to offer a more permanent and sustainable parking
solution for staff.
Before even encountering the design of a new addition to the
property, the Leo A Daly team needed to address structural and
other damages to the historic main house.
Because of its designation as a historic property, the team had to
exercise extreme caution to preserve and protect the house's original condition. Bringing the building up to code and restoring the
house's exterior and interior architecture to its original condition
required meticulous attention to detail.
The centerpiece of the addition, which is three stories totaling
10,000 sq. ft., is a two-story multi-media conference center that can
accommodate as many as 150 people. A meeting space of this magnitude is rare on Capitol Hill. On the ground level, the conference
center opens to a landscaped terrace that supports indoor and outdoor events. On the second level, the center opens to an outdoor
balcony. The third floor addition provides much-needed executive
and administrative office space, with a Juliet balcony that aesthetically ties in with the rest of the addition's exterior.
More importantly, the architecture and interior design of the
addition serves as an effective transition, bridging the historic
main house of the nineteenth century into the twenty-first century.
The most significant challenge to the design team was creating
a permanent parking solution. The design sought to create an underground parking garage, accessible through an elevator at the rear
of the property from the alley. A single car entering the elevator
would be lowered into the below-grade garage.
To achieve this, the team had to demolish half of the carriage
house, which was built in the early 1900s, in order to create space
for the construction equipment to gain access to excavate the
ground. Half of the original carriage house remains, converted into
office space, and a modern addition, designed to mirror the main
house's redbrick aesthetic, was built adjacent to it.
The underground garage holds spaces for eight vehicles. Cars
exiting the garage simply drive into the elevator. Seconds later, the
elevator hoists them up to ground level, and they pull out into the
The Watterston House is historically significant because of its
association in the nineteenth century with one of the Federal
City's most distinguished citizens, George Watterston, who took a
The three-story addition houses a two-floor multi-media conference space and executive offices on the third level.
major role in the political and literary life of the Capitol. The
renovation of the Watterston House retains its original architec-
HISTORY OF WATTERSTON HOUSE
tural integrity. Walking into the historic house is like stepping
Written and unwritten documents reveal a story in which George
back into time.
Watterston was born in New York in 1783 to a Scottish father, Da-
It was within these walls that George Watterston raised two
vid, a builder, who moved the family to the capitol city in 1791.
families: his white one of six children and his black one of two.
Two years later, the young George witnessed President George
Now, instead of being filled with books and collections from its
Washington laying the cornerstone of the future Capitol building.
white owners and serving as living spaces for its enslaved servants,
Trained as a lawyer, Watterston's real passion was literature.
Native American paintings, artifacts, and artwork rest atop its fire-
His poem, "The Wanderer of Jamaica," which was published in
places, adorn the stair halls, and enliven its rooms.
1810 and dedicated to First Lady Dolly Madison, caught the atcommercialarchitecturemagazine.com
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