How you can save this Marcel Breuer building

The architect’s American Press Institute could be flattened – you can help hold back the wrecking ball
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The American Press Institute by Marcel Breuer. Image courtesy of moderncapitaldc.com
The American Press Institute by Marcel Breuer. Image courtesy of moderncapitaldc.com

Take a cab from Dulles International Airport towards Washington DC, and you can, for now at least, catch sight of one of the lesser-known masterworks of modernist architecture.

Marcel Breuer designed the American Press Institute’s headquarters in Reston Virginia, just to the south of the Dulles Access Road on the outskirts of DC, between 1972 and 1974, and it remains a little-known, yet magisterial creation.

As Robert McCarter explains in our new Marcel Breuer book, “Breuer’s late designs for office buildings were among the most formally powerful and differentiated, and he was one of the very few architects practicing in this period who continued and extended Le Corbusier’s ideal of the concrete facade being articulated both functionally and plastically, creating a powerful play of light and shadow.”

 

The American Press Institute by Marcel Breuer
The American Press Institute by Marcel Breuer

Alas, API sold the building in 2013, after it merged with The Newspaper Association of America. Now a real-estate developer has lodged an application to build 34 houses and 10 condominiums on the 4.6 acres site.

However, there are moves afoot to save the building, and you can help. Local marketing executive Craig Branson, who used to work here, is campaigning to save API’s old headquaters, arguing that it remains the only “stellar example of whole-site architecture using Brutalism” in the region.

Branson and his fellow architecture fans are collecting signatures here, and plan to submit their petition to the local Planning Commission in advance of their meeting on June 16. If you value mid-century, Brutalist architecture, put your name down here.

For more on Breuer’s life, work and legacy, buy this book, and for greater insight into Brutalism more generally get This Brutal World.


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