The Organization of American States

SizeArchitectCostAdded Value
280,000 SFLEWIS J GOETZ$32 Million$3.5 Million under budget

The Organization of American States is made up of 35 member nations of the Western Hemisphere brought together to strengthen cooperation on democratic values, defend common interests, and debate the major issues facing the region and the world.  The OAS is headquartered in several prominent buildings in Washington, DC.

The Challenge

The OAS housed its core operations and administrative staff in a 280,000-square-foot building originally constructed in 1978. The facility had not been changed since the original building construction and required significant upgrades for functional use, building systems, and life safety issues. OAS also needed sizeable conference and meeting room capabilities that did not exist in the facility.

The OAS had strict budget constraints because of contribution limitations and oversight by the member nations. Significant internal politics and committee-based decision-making requirements affected virtually every factor of the project. In addition, the OAS needed to occupy the building during renovations. So the goal was to achieve a complete modernization of the existing building including the main lobby, common areas on all floors, conference facilities, restrooms, mechanical and electrical, life safety systems, elevators, and cab interiors all while maintaining occupancy of the building.

The Solution

Blake Real Estate arranged creative financing through a public bond issue and developed a budget of $32 million for the project. Blake assembled a team of contractors, architects, engineering consultants, and vendors, and prepared a detailed plan for the building to remain occupied throughout the renovation. Detailed reporting processes were developed to meet OAS’ decision-making requirements and maintain the design and construction schedule.

The End Result

The design and construction were completed on time and $3.5 million under budget. Construction was limited to 2-3 floors at any given time and the building remained operational during the entire renovation. Sizeable conference facilities and a two-story lobby expansion were achieved by removing columns and floor slabs from the existing structure. Increasing the efficiency of their space, the OAS was able to lease two floors to third parties enabling them to complete the renovation with no money out of pocket. The project received the Award of Excellence in Interior Architecture – Pinnacle Award: Gold and the Best Commercial Facility over 100,000-SF Award.

Since that time, Blake has performed several additional major projects for the OAS.