The National Capital Planning Commission has approved plans for a new Department of Homeland Security headquarters on the abandoned West Campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital: Planning Agency Approves Homeland Security Complex. While getting Congress to pony up the necessary funds still remains an issue, I’ll wager they’ll be forthcoming eventually—even if it takes a little while given the current economic turmoil.
The bad news: as stated before, this development may affect the site’s national landmark status, and the campus will be off-limits to all but a few thousand government employees. The good news: Kirkbride preservation and reuse is part of the redevelopment plan. Even though it’s sad that the Kirk will be hidden behind multiple layers of security, it’s good to know that its odds for survival are favorable. I also think it’s remarkably fitting for the building to become part of the DHS’s headquarters. No, not because it’ll make an easy joke about the DHS being an insane asylum, but because it’s fortress-like facade will be in keeping with its use.
For some differing views on this development, see these two write ups on other blogs: A Dangerous Turn for St. Elizabeths (Preservation Nation) and St. E’s West Campus Wins Final OK (And Now, Anacostia).