NYA Building 202/Southeast Federal Center, Washington, DC
Building 202 is located within the Southeast Federal Center, formerly called the Navy Yard Annex. It is bordered by M Street to the north, Tingey Street to the south, and parking lots to the east and west. Building 202 is typical of the size, scale and type of structure within the Southeast Federal Center. Constructed in 1941, it served as an extension to gun assembly and optical shops. Currently it is used as a warehouse by various government agencies and also houses facilities for the Federal Protection Services of the General Services Administration. The building is a large squat rectangular box, 149' wide, 400' long and five stories in height. The structure is an exposed riveted steel frame. There are 20 structural bays in the longitudinal direction, each measuring 20' in length. The frame is secured against lateral loads through cross-bracing in bays 2, 8, 13 and 19. In the symmetrical transverse direction, there are 5 structural bays, the center one, corresponding to the large interior hall, is approximately 70' in length. The other bays measure approximately 20' in length. The minimally reticulated common red brick masonry cladding is appropriate to the building's utilitarian and industrial character. All facades exhibit a high degree of symmetry. The only notable features are the peaked parapet walls above the central bay on the north and south elevations, and the slightly delineated end bays at the corners of the building. All the windows are steel frame factory sash with clear wire glass, and the sills are concrete. Variations in window and door openings are used to articulate the facades and make a distinction between the first floor and the upper levels. All facades have the same window type on the first floor, some of which have been altered to accommodate new entrance doors. There is one original steel entrance door on the east facade. The north and south facades have steel vertical lift garage doors in the central bay, although only one on the south facade is original. Two additional garage doors have been placed in altered window openings on the two side bays of the north facade. There are three window types on the upper floors, the largest of which spans the central bay on the north and south elevations, and is 4 stories high. This central glazed area is flanked by two 4-story high vertical strips in the adjoining bays. Similar vertical windows occupy the three bays at either end of the east and west facades. The 14 bays between the end bays have proportionally smaller horizontal windows. The pitched roof skylight over the central hall was originally glazed with corrugated wire glass clipped to steel purloins. It has since been removed and replaced with a built-up roofing system over a wood deck, surfaced with asphalt shingles. The roof sections flanking the central pitched roof are asphalt and gravel over a wood deck, similar to the original construction. The largely symmetrical internal organization is dominated by a voluminous central hall which runs the entire length and height of the building. Originally used as a manufacturing area, it is served by a movable crane on a massive steel runway. The hall is flanked on both sides by areas housing concrete floor slabs and four elevator and stair cores, one at each corner of the building. Corrugated steel siding, inset within the structural frame, separates the hall from the adjacent areas. The stair cores are enclosed with unfinished terra-cotta block. The economy and simplicity of the internal layout has since been compromised by various haphazard alterations and modifications. The first floor and mezzanine levels accommodate several concrete masonry unit and stud wall structures, harming the integrity of the open central hall. The upper levels have also been altered, though to a far lesser extent, with partition walls demarcating corridors and storage areas.
The significance of Building 202 in the Southeast Federal Center is closely related to the history and development of the Washington Naval Yard. Ship-building began there in 1800, at the time of an impending war with France. In the 20th century, the Naval Yard experienced three major periods of growth. The first extended through 1902 and was stimulated by the Spanish-American War. The second period occurred during World War 1, when enormous increases in production in the weapons plants resulted in more than doubling it in size. A number of buildings on the site date back to the expansion during World War 1. The third period of growth occurred during World War 2 when the yard became a center for ordnance production and the repair of damaged naval vessels. The last two blocks on the site of the current Southeast Federal Center were absorbed by the US Navy and the town houses lining the street were demolished to make way for new construction. Building 202 is one of the few buildings surviving from this period of growth. Its historical name, Extension to Gun Assembly, Proof and Optical Shops, suggests that it provided space to house increased activity in several existing shops.
After World War 2, production was curtailed at the site as newly developed technologies made the existing facilities obsolete. In 1962 all production stopped and the yard was divided into two parts, one occupied by the US Navy for administrative purposes, and the other transferred to the General Services Administration in 1963.
According to the GSA Master Plan for the Southeast Federal Center, the GSA is planning to move 3,500 administrative personnel onto the site. Initial phases of redevelopment will involve renovating several buildings for use as offices and retail facilities, serving a population of 10,000 to 20,000 people. Building 202 was evaluated as having an excellent potential for reuse based on its contribution to the general industrial character of the site, the condition of the structure and the condition of the exterior envelope. In terms of its architectural merit the building was only regarded as average, being representative of a certain industrial type. The building is planned to be used as office space, possibly yielding 301,000 sq. ft. with the addition of new floor space.
In a Request for Determination of Eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places, Building 202 was considered to be of little architectural and historical significance and a denial of eligibility was recommended. Despite its lack of individual value, the structure is a representative example of the industrial architecture that populated the former Navy Yard. The expression of the massive steel structural frame and the sheer size of the central hall makes it a remarkable space. The glazed roof, however, has been removed, damaging the quality and character of the interior. The strictly functional exterior brick cladding and the industrially produced glazing units, though not particularly distinguished, are pertinent to the historic appearance of the site. Building 202 should be renovated with a degree of sensitivity and consideration, preserving its industrial character.