Federal Executive Institute, Charlottesville, VA
The Main Building of the Federal Executive Institute was originally designed in the Colonial Revival style by Charlottesville architect Milton L. Grigg as the Thomas Jefferson Inn, which opened on May 19, 1951. The construction was carried out by Ivy Construction Corporation of Virginia. Currently, it is used as a residence hall and training facility by the FEI. The building contains 52 guest rooms, a dining room with the capacity to hold approximately 88 persons, 8 classrooms, a conference room, and a store.
The 57,479 gross square foot, three-story building, with a four-story central section, is located at the center of the campus with a classically-inspired pedimented entrance portico on the north facade. Vehicular approach to the building entrance is by means of a sloped, circular driveway with an ovoid lawn in the center, providing a dramatic view of the building. There are parking lots on either side of the lawn. The entrance portico floor is covered with soapstone pavers and is flanked by curvilinear iron lamp posts, which are painted green and sit atop brick piers.
The building, oriented with the long axis east-west, is H-shaped with a four-story, five-bay wide central section flanked by three-story, five-bay wide links on either sides. The east and west wings, oriented north-south, are one bay wide and nine bays deep. As the land slopes up from east to west, the west wing has only two stories as opposed to three. Also, due to the slope of the site, the main entrance is on the second floor level on the north facade and most of the first floor level is below grade, making the building look a story shorter than it actually is. There is another entrance on the rear, south facade that opens into the Directors Office. There is also an entrance that leads directly into the dining room on the first floor.
The east wing has a one-story extension on the south side that includes two classrooms and a lounge area. There is a three-story, 7,700 square foot addition at the southern end of the east wing known as the John W. Macy Wing. It was designed by H.C. Yu & Associates along with Hardwicke Associates and E.L. Hamm and Associates. Completed in 1990, the Macy Wing houses faculty offices and classrooms.
The building is constructed of load-bearing masonry walls with concrete floor slabs and wood roof framing. The interior partitions are typically masonry block with plaster finish, although newer partitions are stud walls with gypsum wall board. The exterior walls, including that of the east wing extension, are of monolithic construction with concrete masonry units clad with oversized bricks, painted a pristine white color, and a brick beltcourse running above the second floor level. The facing brickwork includes inset panels and segmental arches. The windows are typically six-over-six, double-hung wood windows with fixed, louvered, wood shutters. At the wings, a few of the windows are paired with a central mullion. The windows have cast concrete jack arch lintels with keystones. The windows in the Macy Wing are eight-over-eight, double-hung wood windows, with fixed, louvered, wood shutters, either set individually or in pairs with a mullion. The wood windows in the Macy Wing are aluminum-clad on the exterior and are double-glazed with two layers of clear glass separated by a 3/4" air space. Air conditioning grilles are present below a few of the window openings but these protrude out only by a few inches. The multi-gabled roofs of the Main Building are clad with fiberglass asphalt shingles with metal flashings, zinc coated steel gutters, and zinc coated steel rain water leaders. The one-story extension of the east wing has a flat built-up EPDM roof along with a gabled section at the east end. The Macy Wing also has gabled and cross-gabled roofs covered with asphalt-shingles and metal flashings, valleys, and gutters.
The four-story central section of the building has a front gabled roof featuring a pediment on the north facade with a louvered lunette window in the tympanum. The pediment is held up by six two-story high columns that extend down to brick piers on the third floor balcony. The colonnaded balcony has wrought iron railings, painted white to match the bricks, in between the brick piers. Below the third floor balcony, on the north facade, is the brick arched entrance portico.
The south facade of the central section is similarly pedimented as the north facade, but features a two-story bay window section in the center capped with a hipped roof. At the second floor level, the center window is replaced with a two-leaf, glazed door that leads to a brick arched portico, similar to the north facade. At the third floor level, the bay windows are, in fact, French windows with divided-light transoms above. The three French windows originally led onto a balcony. In 1993 the balcony was modified such that the original iron railings were removed leaving the brick piers in place; new wood posts were installed on top of the piers to support a low-pitched standing seam metal roof with exposed wood rafters and aluminum gutters. Sliding, clear glass, vinyl-clad wood windows were installed to enclose the balcony. The space in between the piers was filled in with hopper-style, clear glass windows.
The east and west links have parallel gabled roofs. The second floor windows at the east and west links are recessed within arched niches to repeat the motif of the arched entrance porticos in the center of the north and south facades. The east and west wings are also gabled and are designed such that the rooms are entered through either at-grade covered porches and arcades or covered balconies with wood posts and railings that can be accessed either from the building interior or directly from the exterior by means of external staircases. The external staircases - one in the east wing and two in the west wing - are metal with steel pipe guard rails and handrails, painted black. They have painted metal risers and concrete-fill treads with non-skid finish. The balusters are either steel pickets or steel rails that match the wood railings at the balconies.
The parti of the building is based on the rationale for Grigg's design of the former Thomas Jefferson Inn. When Grigg began designing the inn in 1950, motor inns and highway hotels were becoming the preferred lodging for travelers and were replacing more traditional hotels. With the development of the U.S. highway system, long distance road journeys became common and the need for inexpensive, easily accessible overnight accommodation, sited close to the main routes, arose. This led to the consequent growth of the motel concept. Since the Thomas Jefferson Inn was sited close to two major highways, both the architect and the hotels owners felt that the motel concept should be incorporated in the design of the inn. However, they also felt that the motor inn concept was a fad; they wanted to build a hotel which would have a more lasting and singular appeal and would be more aesthetically pleasing than a motor inn.
After much brainstorming and research, Grigg along with the owners decided to marry the concept of the motor inn with that of a traditional hotel with more gracious living quarters. The architect Grigg described the basic concept of Thomas Jefferson Inn in the July 1951 issue of Hotel Monthly as follows:
"Beginning with a location outside of town, we adopted this basic plan: The central core would be a traditional air-conditioned arrangement of guest rooms. This would be flanked on either side by open court rooms, easily accessible to adequate parking facilities. And the entire plan would be arranged for easy circulation to the public spaces, restaurant and parking facilities.
We, along with the owners, felt that many roadside inns and courts fail in their initial appeal to travelers; and they fail because they do not realize that their facades should be their billboards. So we have sought to express, within reasonable economic limits, an atmosphere traditionally associated with the south, particularly the notable inns of Virginia. This we have found more effective than acres of billboards."
To create a dramatic effect and impart a dose of grandeur to the inn, Grigg took inspiration for the design of the central section and the links from grand Jeffersonian mansions of the South as well as luxurious Southern hotels like the Williamsburg Inn, built in 1937, with its colossal portico on top of an arcaded first story with wings set back to either side, windows set within arched niches, and lunettes at the gable fronts. For the east and west wings the design was more in keeping with the motel concept, with rooms that could be entered from covered porches or open balconies rather than indoor hotel corridors, while maintaining the symmetry of the plan and the neoclassical style.
The layout of the former Thomas Jefferson Inn consisted of a modest sized entrance lobby at the second floor level, with a reception desk at the immediate right of the entrance, and a gift shop to the left. Extending from each side of the lobby were corridors that led to guest rooms. Directly ahead of the main entry door was a staircase that led up to a Jeffersonian style lounge and guest rooms on that level. The lounge was a double-height space with two fireplaces at the ends of the room, an elaborate cornice, chandeliers, and French windows that led into a balcony that overlooked the gardens and lawns at the rear of the building. At the back of the staircase, on the second floor level, was a three-room suite composed of a large living room type area that had wood paneled walls and access to a private porch at the rear of the building. On each side of the living room were guest rooms and attached bathrooms. Depending on the need, the rooms could be used either individually or as a suite. In front of the three-bedroom suite were stairs that went down to the dining room on the first floor. The dining room had a transient entrance and access to a terraced outdoor dining area that was paved with soap stone pavers. A mural was painted on one of the walls of the dining room depicting scenes from the UVA. The kitchen was at the south end of the east wing. At the north end of the east wing were four guest rooms that were meant for guests traveling with young children so that the children could have easy access to the playgrounds and also to isolate the noise for the rest of the guests. The rest of the first floor consisted of mechanical spaces. The west side was unexcavated due to the slope in the terrain. At the fourth floor of the central section were two large rooms with attached bathrooms that were meant for dormitory style living. As for the interior finishes and details, the hotel was designed to increase efficiency while maintaining the aesthetics. The floors in the corridors and public spaces were cork for sound absorption and easy maintenance. The corridors terminated at each end by fire-glass doors. At each corridor end was a service closet and a refrigerator box. The porch floors at the wings were green cement. The guest rooms had accordion type doors for closets, aluminum window blinds, carpeted floors, and sound absorbing plaster ceilings. The walls were treated with integral-color plaster that did not need to be painted. The carpet used in the rooms was quite novel as it was hooked into the concrete floor slab which had a special strip attached to it. This allowed the carpets to be removed easily if required. The color scheme for the guest rooms was yellow for rooms having a north exposure and blue or green for rooms having a southern exposure.
The basic arrangement of the Thomas Jefferson Inn - traditional guest rooms, entered from hotel corridors, located in the center section and motel style rooms in the two flanking wings - is intact to the present day, with minor alteration that do not detract from the parti of the original design. On entering the lobby through the main entrance door, there is a security booth on the right hand side and an office on the other side. Two slim, stylized wood pilasters with composite capitals along with a fixed, divided-light, square window flank the main entrance door on each side. The main entrance door is a double-leaf, wide-stile wood door with full height clear glass not divided by muntins. The curved reception desk no longer exists but the curved wood molding on the ceiling next to the security booth still remains, along with an old mail box unit, indicating the location of the reception desk. The former shop on the second floor has been converted into an office space but the elaborate wood moldings around the door opening still remain. The walls in the lobby have wood base boards, chair rails, and cornice moldings. All the interior wood work is painted white. The wall below the chair rail is painted grey and above the chair rail is a yellowish cream color. Original glass wall sconces light up the lobby along with table lamps. The floor in the lobby is carpeted. The three-room suite on the second floor is now the Directors Office with adjoining offices for support staff. The finishes in the Directors Office are superior to that of the rest of offices. The wood paneling on the walls is no longer visible in the Directors Office, although the wood cornice and wood door and window trims still remain and are painted a grayish blue color. Fluorescent lights are installed in the ceiling and are not in harmony with the overall traditional aesthetic of the room. Several of the guest rooms on this floor are now used as administrative offices. The finishes in the offices are typically acoustic tile ceilings, carpet floors, wood baseboards, fluorescent troffer lights, and flush wood doors with steel frames. The corridors in the second and third floors feature carpeted floors, wood baseboards, wood chair rails, and acoustic tile ceilings. The guest rooms typically have wood baseboards, wood chair rails, wood cornices, and carpeted floors. Doors into the individual guest rooms are typically wood with wood frames on the exterior doors and hollow metal frames on the interior doors. The doors of the guest room that face open porches or balconies are equipped with double-leaf, louvered screen doors in addition to the entry doors. All exit doors are typically fire-rated metal doors.
The former lounge on the third floor is now used as a conference room and is called the Virginia Study. It has retained almost all of its Jeffersonian details, including the fireplaces, the chandeliers, the cornice, moldings, the upper level octagonal windows, and the French windows. Wood wainscoting wraps around the perimeter of the room. On the north wall of the room are paneled doors that have elaborate architraves crowned by pediments. The flooring in the room is composed of wood parquet. The balcony adjoining the conference room has been enclosed as mentioned earlier. The dining room and kitchen remain in their original locations, although the kitchen was enlarged, presumably in the 1960s, to incorporate more storage and preparation area. The dining room is largely unchanged and features original murals on its walls, a fire place, wood wainscot, wood cornice, brass chandeliers, patterned ceiling tiles, and doors with elaborate wood trim. The original outdoor dining terrace no longer exists. In its place is a one-story addition that accommodates a lounge area as well as two large classroom spaces the Old Dominion Room, which has a capacity of approximately 100 people, and Albemarle Room. The Old Dominion Room has fabric-covered, movable panel walls, stylized painted wood pilasters, wood wall trim, and baseboards. A separate entrance, leading directly into the lounge area, was added at approximately a forty-five degree angle to the east wing. It is assumed that sometime in the 1990s this entrance porch was enclosed with stuccoed walls and clear glass windows to create an Alumni Room which is currently used as a breakfast room. The lounge area and breakfast room have slate floors and wood trims, moldings, and built-in cabinetry.
In 1990, the John W. Macy Wing was completed as an addition to the south end of the east wing to replace an existing trailer and to meet the demand for additional classrooms and faculty offices. It follows the style of the original building and has masonry load-bearing walls clad in brick, painted white, as well as gabled roofs with pre-fabricated wooden trusses and double-hung wood windows with shutters. The masonry work in the Macy Wing is of composite construction with an insulated cavity separating the brick facing from the concrete unit back-up. The Macy Wing can be accessed directly from the exterior by concrete steps on the south facade that lead to an arched portico at the second floor level, similar to the main entrance portico of the original building. However, in the case of the Macy Wing, the front portico does not cover the entire width of the elevation and the entrance is offset to the side. Decorative iron railings enclose the portico resembling the iron work at the balcony on the front facade of the original building. There is a second entry door at the second floor level on the west side that is accessed by means of a ramp. It is recessed within an arched niche. Due to the slope of the terrain, there is an entrance to the Macy Wing also on the first floor level on the east side of the building. The door is recessed with an arched opening and provides access to the kitchen. The arches at the entryways evoke the brick arched porticos, the arcades and the arched window niches of the original building. On the first floor level of the Macy Wing are the audiovisual room, a copy center, a mail room and a classroom called the Commonwealth Classroom. On the second floor of the Macy Wing are approximately nine faculty offices, several of which are currently not used. The third floor of the Macy Wing includes three classrooms - the Jefferson Room, the Wilson Room, and the Monroe Room. The classrooms have commercial grade carpeting, painted drywall partitions, fabric-covered sliding panels, and acoustic tile ceilings with fluorescent light fixtures.
While the Macy Wing, along with the east side expansion of the east wing detracts from the basic symmetry of the original plan, their design is in harmony with that of the original building and they are located towards the rear of the building such that they are not visible from the buildings front.
The Main Building of the FEI (former Thomas Jefferson Inn), built in 1951, was designed by a prominent Charlottesville architect, Milton LaTour Grigg (1905-1982). Grigg was born in Alexandria, Virginia and studied architecture at the University of Virginia in the late 1920s. The architecture program in the UVA was steeped in Beaux Arts influence and laid great stress on architectural history and on the architectural works of the University's architect and founder, Thomas Jefferson. Grigg did not complete the architectural program to receive his degree and left the university in 1929. Between 1929 and I933 he worked on restorations at Colonial Williamsburg with the Boston firm, Perry, Shaw & Hepburn. Grigg established his own firm in Charlottesville in 1933 and met with early success in his professional life when he received recognition as a bronze medalist in the Better Home in America competition for his design for the Everard Meade House. In 1936, he added Floyd Johnson as partner. That partnership lasted through 1940 after which time Grigg associated with William Newton Hale, Jr. Grigg's firm was known as Grigg, Wood & Browne by 1977. He died in 1982.
A large part of Grigg's body of work involves the restoration of historic buildings including Monticello, portions of Montpelier, and Edgemont. In the 1930s and 1940s he was also involved with the rehabilitation of several old country houses in Albemarle County which were enlarged and converted into neo-classical country estates. One of these, the Ramsay, is listed in the National Register. He also repaired and restored several churches. Grigg was one of the premier architectural restoration/preservationists of his time and was one of the founding members of the National Council for the Preservation of Historic Sites and Buildings (now the National Trust for Historic Preservation).
In spite of his vast contribution to the field of preservation, Grigg did not consider himself to be a restoration architect and the range of his design work clearly reflects his interests beyond preservation. Grigg's designs were, however, always rooted in the Jeffersonian tradition. Like Thomas Jefferson before him, Grigg took inspiration from historic buildings and architectural motifs absorbing and reinterpreting the principles embodied in them to fit contemporary needs. Grigg was a prominent residential architect in Central Virginia. His residential designs brilliantly combined Jeffersonian details with southern plantation house vernacular with its Georgian-derived influences to produce domestic structures that were graceful, elegant yet intimate. Grigg designed hundreds of churches in Virginia and throughout the country. A large portion of Grigg's portfolio also included municipal buildings such as the Alexandria City Hall (1946), the Alexandria City Prison (1947), and international assignments such as the extension of the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, Australia, begun in 1957. Grigg completed a number of commercial projects which included shopping centers, cultural centers and office buildings. Grigg not only worked as an architect, but he was also a dedicated civil servant. His architectural skills were put to work as the civilian Chief of the Design Section of the Army Corps of Engineers in Washington, D.C. During his time in the nation's capital he administered the Master Plan for Walter Reed General Hospital, Master Recreation Plan for the Development of the Potomac River Basin, and the Expansion of the National Airport facilities. He was also was a member of Public Advisory Panel on Architectural Services for GSA (Region 3) from 1969-71. At a local level, he served on the Charlottesville Planning Commission from 1946 to 1964 and on the architectural review board. He had also served as President of the Albemarle County Historical Society.
The former Thomas Jefferson Inn is the only hotel known to have been designed by Grigg. The design of the inn reflects many classical Jeffersonian design motifs that were a feature of Grigg's work including the use of a partially below-grade lower level to add a sense of intimacy to the structure, strong indoor/outdoor relationship, symmetrical wings, colonnaded front entrances, and use of bay windows, arched openings, and lunettes. At the same time, the design of Thomas Jefferson Inn is contemporary in its use of an innovative parti of combining traditional lodging with motel style lodging.
The landscaping of the Federal Executive Institute establishes the resort type setting of the building. Landscaping was planned so as to keep the parking spaces away from the main central section of the former hotel and provide sweeping views of the lawns from the resort-style rooms. A long circular driveway with an ovoid lawn in the middle provides a dramatic approach to the Main Building. Ornamental deciduous trees, shrubs, lawns, soapstone, and brick pavers, concrete walkways, granite curbs and retaining walls, a koi pond, swales, a pool area, and an outdoor eating area further enhance the landscaping and contribute towards the intimate, serene feel within the campus.
In terms of type, period, or method of construction, the Main Building is not built in a Modern-era style. Instead its design is influenced by colonial classicism and Jeffersonian style. Grigg's architectural education at the UVA had predisposed him to the classical styles of architecture and his extensive experience in architectural restoration gave him a strong understanding of classical details and design principals. Grigg was uncomfortable designing in a Modern style. Instead, he used this knowledge to design buildings that were filled with classical charm while adapting the details to suit modern needs, spatial requirements, and materials. In the Thomas Jefferson Inn we see this clear marrying of Jeffersonian details with practical considerations of cost, layout, simplicity, and scale. The parti of the design included traditional hotel resort-style rooms in the central section while the wings were laid out in motel-style with rooms facing porches and balconies and with parking lots located close by for easy access to automobiles. Staircases were located on the exterior so guests could access their rooms directly from the exterior parking areas. The concept was lauded in the 1951 issue of Hotel Monthly as an innovative hotel design for its time as it successfully juxtaposed two lodging styles within one overall design style.
Although Thomas Jefferson Inn was built in Colonial Revival style, it embraced modern design values of economy of construction, standardization of finishes and materials, and simplicity of details. Grigg made efficient use of space and cost-cutting design strategies. The strategies used not only minimized construction cost but also reduced the operating costs of the hotel. As the architect describes in the 1951 issue of Hotel Monthly, the size of the lobby and lounge (now called the Virginia Study) were kept to a minimum as they were not considered to be revenue generating spaces. The construction cost of each guest room was about $7200. The cost was kept low by standardizing room sizes and finishes which allowed purchasing materials in bulk on discount rates and expedited construction. Also, by standardizing sizes and finishes, materials and furnishings could be easily interchanged between rooms. The color schemes of the rooms were limited to three. Only the rooms in the central section of the building were air-conditioned while the ones in the wings were not. The rooms in the wings had windows on both sides of the room to allow for cross-ventilation. The rooms were equipped with full carpeting and acoustical type plaster to reduce noise levels. The dining room was located at the lowest level and was provided with a separate entrance so as to not disturb guests in their rooms. The four guest rooms located on the first floor were reserved for guests with small children such that they did not disturb other guests on the upper floor and had easy access to the playground. The three room suite on the second floor was designed such that each room could be used individually depending on the demand. The living area was furnished with sofas that could be converted into beds if required. Cork floors were used in corridors and public spaces that helped absorb noise and eased maintenance.
In terms of architectural integrity, the former Thomas Jefferson has undergone changes over the years in order to accommodate new uses and modern requirements. These modifications, however, have been carried out in a sensitive manner so as to keep the impact on the historic character of the property to a minimum. Thomas Jefferson Inn went through the first modifications in the 1960s when the east extension was presumably added. This took away from the symmetry of the property. However, because the extension was added at the rear of the building, it had less of an impact on the overall appearance of the building and from the front the building maintains its classical symmetry. The next phase of modification took place in the late 1960s and 70s when the building was converted into the Federal Executive Institute. A few guest rooms were converted into classrooms, but apart from that no major changes took place. In the 1980s, the building went through numerous renovations, which included conversion of several guestrooms into classrooms and offices, particularly on the second floor level, modifications were made to a few rooms and bathrooms to make them handicap accessible, ramps were installed, both in the interior and exterior of the building, a hydraulic elevator was added in the east wing, and renovations in the Old Dominion Room were carried out. In the 1990s, the balcony at the rear of the building was enclosed and the Macy Wing was constructed at the end of the east wing to replace a trailer type structure that had been installed in the 1980s to meet the need for additional classrooms and storage. The Macy Wing is designed so as to be compatible with the original construction and uses similar materials and details as the original building. Also, in the 1990s, the entrance porch in the extension of the east wing was enclosed to create the breakfast room. On the whole, the Main Building has undergone several changes but these changes have not compromised the basic parti of the building design. With the exception of a portion of the east wing, the balconies, porches, and arcades in the wings remain as they were when the building was originally built. The public areas of the building such as the Lobby, Virginia Study, and dining room maintain most of the original architectural details. The exterior of the building maintains its key features and original form for the most part and additions, apart from the balcony enclosure, have been built in a sensitive manner so as to not detract from the original design.
The Main Building, or the former Thomas Jefferson Inn, is also historically significant for its connection with the founding of the FEI in 1968 and as the first home of the institute. The year that the FEI was founded is a significant year for public administration. While the nation was facing multiple crises - race riots, the dissension at the National Democratic Convention, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. - the Government and its administrative arm came under pressure for a range of issues from civil rights to social welfare. The capacity of the Government to respond to those issues was questioned, particularly by academics in the field of public administration. The field of public administration was trying to redefine itself as the discipline had lost a sense of purpose. In 1968, Dwight Waldo, a leading academic in the area of public administration, sponsored the Minnowbrook Conference to begin dialog on a new public administration - one that stressed normative theory, philosophy and activism, with an overriding moral tone contemplating values, ethics, and the development of the individual within the organization. The FEI was founded during these times, impacting practitioners and providing innovative training experiences. The first training sessions held in the buildings were largely experimental in nature and through interactions between the faculty and the first groups of trainees the training programs took concrete form and an innovative executive development program was established. The FEI represents the Government's, and in particular the U.S. Civil Service Commission's, early efforts to improve upon the leadership skills of senior career government executives to enhance their individual performance and in turn the performance of government agencies. The faculty at FEI has contributed a great deal to research in the areas of public administration and political science through publication of several books and papers in the area. A large part of the success of the institute and its alumni lies in its picturesque and serene design, planning, and landscaping, which renders itself well to research and collaborative projects.
- GSA building number: VA1405EI
- Landmakr status: National Register eligible