Watergate complex
The Watergate complex is a group of five buildings next to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a performing arts center located on the Potomac River, adjacent to the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C...

 in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The 10 acres (40,468.6 m²) site contains an office building, three apartment buildings, and a hotel-office building. Construction was delayed for several months while the developer, government officials, and others debated the appropriateness of the complex's architectural style and height. Construction began in August 1963, and, after additional controversy over the height and siting of the fifth building, was completed in January 1971. Considered one of Washington's most desirable living spaces, the Watergate has been popular with members of Congress and political appointees in the executive branch since it opened. The complex has been sold several times since the 1980s; in the 1990s it was split up and buildings and parts of buildings were sold to various owners.

In 1972, the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee
Democratic National Committee
The Democratic National Committee is the principal organization governing the United States Democratic Party on a day to day basis. While it is responsible for overseeing the process of writing a platform every four years, the DNC's central focus is on campaign and political activity in support...

, then located on the sixth floor of the Watergate Hotel and Office Building, were burglarized, documents were photographed, and telephones were wiretapped. The investigation into the burglary revealed that high officials in the Nixon administration
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 had ordered the break-in and then tried to cover up their involvement. Additional crimes were also uncovered. The ensuing 1970s scandal
Watergate scandal
The Watergate scandal was a political scandal during the 1970s in the United States resulting from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement...

, named for the complex, led to the resignation of Nixon on August 9, 1974. The name "Watergate" and the suffix
In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

 "-gate" have since become synonymous with political scandal in the United States and in other English-speaking nations.


The Watergate superblock is bounded on the north by Virginia Avenue
Virginia Avenue
Virginia Avenue is a street in the Northwest, Southwest, and Southeast quadrants of Washington, D.C. Like other state-named streets in Washington, it diagonally crosses the grid pattern formed by lettered and numbered streets....

, on the east by New Hampshire Avenue
New Hampshire Avenue
New Hampshire Avenue is a diagonal street in Washington, D.C., beginning at the Kennedy Center and extending northeast for about 5 miles and then continuing into Maryland where it is designated Maryland Route 650. New Hampshire Avenue, however, is not contiguous...

, on the south by F Street, and on the west by the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway
Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway
The Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, often known simply as the Rock Creek Parkway, is a parkway maintained by the National Park Service as part of Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C...

. It is in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood overlooking the Potomac River
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

, adjacent to the Kennedy Center
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a performing arts center located on the Potomac River, adjacent to the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C...

 and the embassy of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. The nearest Metro
Washington Metro
The Washington Metro, commonly called Metro, and unofficially Metrorail, is the rapid transit system in Washington, D.C., United States, and its surrounding suburbs. It is administered by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority , which also operates Metrobus service under the Metro name...

 station is Foggy Bottom-GWU.

The site

For more than a century, the site on which the Watergate complex now stands had originally housed the Gas Works of the Washington Gas Light Company
Washington Gas
WGL Holdings, Inc. , is a public utility holding company located in the United States that serves customers in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia...

, which produced "manufactured gas
Coal gas
Coal gas is a flammable gaseous fuel made by the destructive distillation of coal containing a variety of calorific gases including hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane and volatile hydrocarbons together with small quantities of non-calorific gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen...

" (a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane, and other flammable and nonflammable gases) used for heating, cooking, and lighting throughout the city. Gas production ceased at the site in 1947, and the plant was demolished shortly thereafter. In the 1950s, the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 considered building its international headquarters here and on the adjacent site (which now houses the Kennedy Center), but rejected the site for unspecified reasons in favor of its current location at 1818 H Street NW in Washington, D.C.

The proposed complex

The Watergate complex was developed by the Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 firm Società Generale Immobiliare
Società Generale Immobiliare
Società Generale Immobiliare was the largest Italian real estate and construction company. It was founded in Turin in 1862 but then moved to Rome in 1870 with the unification of Italy. After moving to Rome, the company became interested in the pastoral land around Rome and ended up buying it. ...

 (SGI). The company purchased the 10 acres (40,468.6 m²) that constitute the plot of land on the defunct Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, abbreviated as the C&O Canal, and occasionally referred to as the "Grand Old Ditch," operated from 1831 until 1924 parallel to the Potomac River in Maryland from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, D.C. The total length of the canal is about . The elevation change of...

 in February 1960 for $
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

10 million. The project was publicly announced on October 21, 1960. Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 Luigi Moretti
Luigi Moretti
Luigi Walter Moretti was an Italian architect.- Education and academic career :He was born in via Napoleone III, on the Esquiline Hill, in the same apartment where he lived almost his entire life...

 of the University of Rome was the chief architect, and Milton Fischer of the D.C.-based firm of Corning, Moore, Elmore and Fischer the associate architect. The design of the apartment buildings included two-story units which would occupy the first and second floors, while the units on the uppermost floors had private rooftop terraces
Terrace (building)
A terrace is an outdoor, occupiable extension of a building above ground level. Although its physical characteristics may vary to a great degree, a terrace will generally be larger than a balcony and will have an "open-top" facing the sky...

 and fireplace
A fireplace is an architectural structure to contain a fire for heating and, especially historically, for cooking. A fire is contained in a firebox or firepit; a chimney or other flue allows gas and particulate exhaust to escape...

s. The design for the entire complex also envisioned an electronic security system so extensive that the press claimed "intruders will have difficulty getting onto the grounds undetected." Boris V. Timchenko, a noted D.C.-based landscape architect
Landscape architect
A landscape architect is a person involved in the planning, design and sometimes direction of a landscape, garden, or distinct space. The professional practice is known as landscape architecture....

, supervised the design of the grounds (which included more than 150 planters, tiers of fountains designed to create sounds like a waterfall, landscaped rooftop terraces, swimming pools, and a 7 acres (28,328 m²) park). Landscape features such as planters would also be used to create privacy barriers between apartments. The complex was the first mixed-use development
Mixed-use development
Mixed-use development is the use of a building, set of buildings, or neighborhood for more than one purpose. Since the 1920s, zoning in some countries has required uses to be separated. However, when jobs, housing, and commercial activities are located close together, a community's transportation...

 in the District of Columbia, and was intended to help define the area as a business and residential rather than industrial district. The Watergate complex was intended to be a "city within a city," and provide so many amenities (such as a free 24-hour receptionist, room service provided by the Watergate Hotel, health club, restaurants, shopping mall, medical and dental offices, grocery, pharmacy, post office, and liquor store) that residents would not need to leave. At the time, it was also the largest renewal effort in the District of Columbia undertaken solely with private funds.

The name of the complex was derived from the terraced steps west of the Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior...

 that lead down to the Potomac River
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

. The steps were originally planned as the official reception area for dignitaries arriving in Washington, D.C., via water taxi from Virginia, but they never served this function. Instead, beginning in 1935, the steps faced a floating performance stage on the Potomac River on which open-air concerts were held. Up to 12,000 people would sit on the steps and surrounding grass and listen to symphonies, military bands, and operas. The concerts on the barge ceased in 1965 when jet airliner service began at National Airport
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is a public airport located south of downtown Washington, D.C., in Arlington County, Virginia. It is the commercial airport nearest to Washington, D.C. For many decades, it was called Washington National Airport, but this airport was renamed in 1998 to...

, making too much noise for music programs to continue.

Initially, the project was projected to cost $75 million and consisted of six 16-story buildings comprising 1,400 apartment units, a 350-room hotel, office space, shops, 19 luxury "villas" (townhouses), and three-level underground parking for 1,250 vehicles. The Watergate's curved structures were designed to emulate two nearby elements. The first was the proposed Inner Loop Expressway
Inner Loop (Washington, D.C.)
The Inner Loop was two planned freeways around downtown Washington, D.C. The innermost loop would have formed an oval centered on the White House, with a central freeway connecting the southern segment to the northern segment and then continuing on to Interstate 95. Interstate 95 would have met...

, a curving freeway expected to be built just in front of the Watergate within the next decade. The second was the shape of the nearby Kennedy Center, then in the planning stage and whose original design was supposed to be curvilinear. Although the Kennedy Center later adopted a rectangular shape for cost reasons, the Watergate complex's design did not change. Incidentally, the curved structures would also give apartment dwellers an excellent view of the Potomac River. Because of the curves in the structure, the Watergate complex was one of the first major construction projects in the United States in which computers played a significant role in the design work.

Approval controversies and construction

Because the District of Columbia is the seat of the United States government, proposals for buildings in the city (particularly those in the downtown area, near federal buildings and monuments) must pass through an extensive, complex, and time-consuming approval process. The approval process for the Watergate complex had five stages. The first stage considered the proposed project as a whole as well as the first proposed building. The remaining four stages each considered the four remaining proposed buildings in turn. At each stage, three separate planning bodies were required to give their approval: The National Capital Planning Commission
National Capital Planning Commission
The National Capital Planning Commission is a U.S. government agency that provides planning guidance for Washington, D.C. and the surrounding National Capital Region...

 (NCPC), the District of Columbia Zoning Commission (DCZC), and the United States Commission of Fine Arts
United States Commission of Fine Arts
The United States Commission of Fine Arts , established in 1910 by an act of Congress, is an advisory agency of the Federal government.The CFA is mandated to review and provide advice on "matters of design and aesthetics", involving federal projects and planning in Washington, D.C...

 (USCFA) (which had approval authority over any buildings built on the Potomac River to ensure that they fit aesthetically with their surroundings).

Fourteen months after the project was publicly announced, the National Capital Planning Commission
National Capital Planning Commission
The National Capital Planning Commission is a U.S. government agency that provides planning guidance for Washington, D.C. and the surrounding National Capital Region...

 (NCPC) voiced its concern in December 1961 that the project's 16-story buildings would overshadow both the Lincoln Memorial and the proposed "National Cultural Center" (later to be called the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts). At the time, the District of Columbia had a 90 feet (27.4 m) height limit on all buildings except for those located exclusively along business streets. To obtain a height waiver, SGI would have to include retail office space in the complex, but the site was then zoned only for apartment buildings. Thus, initial approval first had to be won from the District of Columbia Zoning Commission. By the time the DCZC met to consider approval in mid-April 1962, the cost of the project had been scaled back to just $50 million. Because the District of Columbia lacked home rule
District of Columbia home rule
District of Columbia home rule is a term to describe the various means by which residents of the District of Columbia are able to govern their local affairs...

 (and still does as of July 2010), DCZC planners were reluctant to act without coordinating with agencies of the federal government. Additionally, many civic leaders, architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

s, business people
A businessperson is someone involved in a particular undertaking of activities for the purpose of generating revenue from a combination of human, financial, or physical capital. An entrepreneur is an example of a business person...

, and city planners
Urban planner
An urban planner or city planner is a professional who works in the field of urban planning/land use planning for the purpose of optimizing the effectiveness of a community's land use and infrastructure. They formulate plans for the development and management of urban and suburban areas, typically...

 opposed the project before the DCZC because they feared it was too tall and too large. By the end of April, DCZC had announced a delay in its decision-making. The Commission of Fine Arts also had concerns. The USCFA felt some of the land should be preserved as public space, and objected to the height of the proposed buildings as well as their modern
Modern architecture
Modern architecture is generally characterized by simplification of form and creation of ornament from the structure and theme of the building. It is a term applied to an overarching movement, with its exact definition and scope varying widely...

 design. Three days after the DCZC meeting, the USCFA announced it was putting a "hold" on the Watergate development until its concerns were addressed. To counter this resistance, SGI officials met with members of the USCFA in New York City in April 1962 and defended the complex's design. SGI also scaled the height of the Watergate back to 14 stories from 16 stories. The project was then reviewed by the NCPC in May 1962. Additional revisions in the design plan pushed the cost back up to $65 million, even though only 17 villas were now planned. Based on this proposal, the NCPC approved the Watergate plan. With the support of the NCPC, SGI dug in its heels: It declared it was not interested in developing the unsightly, abandoned commercial site unless its basic curvilinear design (now called "Watergate Towne") was approved, and it actively lobbied DCZC commissioners in late May (lecturing them on the District's architectural heritage and the beauty of modern architecture). SGI officials also lobbied the USCFA. Meanwhile, White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 staff made it known that the Kennedy administration
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 wanted the height of the complex lowered to 90 feet (27.4 m). Three key staff were opposed to the project on height grounds: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Special Assistant to the President; August Heckscher III, Special Consultant on the Arts; and William Walton, a Kennedy family confidante. The three briefed President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 on the issue, but it was not clear who made the decision to request the height reduction or who made the request public. The White House announcement surprised many, and offended federal and city planners (who saw it as presidential interference in their activities). SGI's chief architect, Gábor Ács
Gabor Acs
Gábor Ács is a Hungarian-born architect who was active primarily between 1953 and 1990. He worked early in his career with the noted architect I. M...

, and Watergate chief architect Luigi Moretti flew to New York City on May 17 and defended the complex's design in a special three-hour meeting with USCFA members. SGI agreed to scale back 75 percent of the buildings in the development to just 13 stories (112 ft), with the remaining 25 percent of the buildings rising to 130 feet (39.6 m). SGI also agreed to add more open space to the project by scaling the size of the Watergate back to 1730000 square feet (160,722.3 m²) from 1.911 million square feet and by reorienting and/or re-siting some of the buildings in the complex. The USCFA gave its assent to the revised construction plan on May 28, the White House withdrew its objections, and the DCZC gave its final approval on July 13. The final plan broke one building into two, creating five rather than four construction projects. Moretti later admitted he probably would have lowered the height of the buildings anyway, and thought that the approval process had gone relatively smoothly. Construction was expected to begin in the spring of 1963 and last five years.

The Watergate project faced one final controversy, however. The group Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a group that advocates separation of church and state, a legal doctrine interpreted by AU as being enshrined in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.-Mission:The guiding principle of Americans...

 began a national letter-writing campaign opposing the project, alleging that the zoning waivers would not have been given had the Vatican not been a major investor in SGI. By mid-November 1962, more than 2,000 protest letters had been sent to Congress and another 1,500 to the White House. But the group's attempt to stop construction failed, and the project went forward.

The project won its $44 million financial backing in late 1962, and its construction permits in May 1963. Construction began on the first building, the Watergate East apartment, in August 1963. The builder was Magazine Bros. Construction. Groundbreaking occurred in August 1963, and major excavation work was complete by May 1964.

The U.S. Commission on Fine Arts attempted once more, however, to significantly revise the project. In October 1963, the USCFA alleged that the height of the Watergate complex, as measured from the parkway in front of it, would exceed the agreed-upon height restrictions. SGI officials, however, contended that architects are required by law to measure from the highest point on the property on which they are to build; using this measurement, the building met the May 1962 agreement stipulations. On January 10, 1963, SGI and the USCFA agreed that the height of the complex would not exceed 140 feet (42.7 m) above water level (10 inches below that of the nearby Lincoln Memorial), that fewer than 300 apartment units would be built (to reduce population congestion), and to eliminate the proposed luxury villas (to create more open space). Luxury penthouse apartments, however, could extend above the 140 feet (42.7 m) limit if they were set back
Setback (architecture)
A setback, sometimes called step-back, is a step-like recession in a wall. Setbacks were initially used for structural reasons, but now are often mandated by land use codes.-History:...

 from the edge of the building and the 14th floor was foregone. With these adjustments, the total cost of the first apartment complex (excluding plumbing, electricity, and decoration) was estimated at $12,184,376. Construction proceeded. In September 1964, the Watergate's developers signed a first-of-its-kind agreement with the Washington Gas Light Co. for the utility to provide the entire complex with its heating and air conditioning. The building's foundation and basement were completed by September 1964, and the metal and concrete superstructure rose in October. Construction began on the second building, the 11-story office building and hotel, in February 1965.

The 110 feet (33.5 m) Watergate East opened in October 1965. The building was completed in May 1965, and a month later the first model apartment unit was opened to the public for viewing. Riverview Realty was the leasing agent for the complex. The Watergate East opened on October 23, 1965, and the first tenants moved in a few days later. Prices for the 238 cooperative apartment
Housing cooperative
A housing cooperative is a legal entity—usually a corporation—that owns real estate, consisting of one or more residential buildings. Each shareholder in the legal entity is granted the right to occupy one housing unit, sometimes subject to an occupancy agreement, which is similar to a lease. ...

 units ranged from $17,000 for efficiencies to more than $250,000 for penthouses, and were almost completely sold out by April 1967. The average apartment contained two bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, a dining room, and a kitchen, and cost $60,000. Parking space in the underground garage cost $3,000 per space. The tenants took title to their building on April 8, 1966. A Safeway
Safeway Inc.
Safeway Inc. , a Fortune 500 company, is North America's second largest supermarket chain after The Kroger Co., with, as of December 2010, 1,694 stores located throughout the western and central United States and western Canada. It also operates some stores in the Mid-Atlantic region of the Eastern...

A supermarket, a form of grocery store, is a self-service store offering a wide variety of food and household merchandise, organized into departments...

, a Peoples Drug
Peoples Drug
Peoples Drug was a chain of drug stores based in Alexandria, VA, a suburb of Washington, D.C.. Founded in 1904, Peoples was subsequently purchased by Lane Drug in 1975, Imasco in 1984, and finally by CVS in 1990, which continued to run the stores under the Peoples banner until 1994, at which time...

 (now known as CVS pharmacy), beauty salon, barber shop, bank, bakery, liquor store, florist, dry cleaner, post office, upscale shops, and high-end restaurant took up residency in the retail space on the ground floor in November 1966.

The Watergate hotel and office complex opened on March 30, 1967, with the Watergate Hotel accepting its first customers the same day. The hotel's 12 stories initially only included 213 rooms, while the 12-story office building (attached to the hotel by a colonnade
In classical architecture, a colonnade denotes a long sequence of columns joined by their entablature, often free-standing, or part of a building....

) had 200000 square feet (18,580.6 m²) of office space. The combined hotel/office building included a health club, space on the ground floor for shops, and a restaurant on the top-floor (the Roman Terrace). Just 25 days later, the Democratic National Committee
Democratic National Committee
The Democratic National Committee is the principal organization governing the United States Democratic Party on a day to day basis. While it is responsible for overseeing the process of writing a platform every four years, the DNC's central focus is on campaign and political activity in support...

 signed a lease for office space in the retail office portion of the building.

Construction on the fourth building in the complex, the Watergate West apartments, began in July 1967. Units in the unfinished building (prices ranges from $30,000 to $140,000 for apartments) began selling as early as October 1967, an indication of how popular the complex was with District residents. The third building (Watergate South) opened in June 1968, and the fourth building topped out
Topping out
In building construction, topping out is a ceremony held when the last beam is placed at the top of a building. The term may also refer to the overall completion of the building's structure, or an intermediate point, such as when the roof is dried in...

 on August 16, 1968. When completed, the Watergate South was the largest apartment building in the complex, with 260 units. By now, the cost of the project had risen to $70 million. Construction on the Watergate West was completed in 1969.

Controversy arose over the construction of the fifth and final building. Excavation and clearing of the Kennedy Center site had begun in 1965, and construction in early 1967. Construction on the Watergate's fifth building was due to begin in the fall of 1967, and advocates of the Kennedy Center began agitating for a change in the height of the building in June 1965. Plans for the fifth building called for a 140 feet (42.7 m) high structure with the upper floors set back to create more space and light. The general counsel
General Counsel
A general counsel is the chief lawyer of a legal department, usually in a corporation or government department. The term is most used in the United States...

 for the Kennedy Center, however, told the USCFA that the Watergate Town (the development had dropped the "e") was planning a 170 feet (51.8 m)-high building which would harm the aesthetics of the Kennedy Center and intrude on the park-like setting surrounding it. The Watergate's attorneys asserted that their building would meet the agreed-upon 140 feet (42.7 m) height limit. The disagreement over the Watergate's final building continued for nearly two years. Watergate apartment residents such as Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Wayne Morse
Wayne Morse
Wayne Lyman Morse was a politician and attorney from Oregon, United States, known for his proclivity for opposing his parties' leadership, and specifically for his opposition to the Vietnam War on constitutional grounds....

 lobbied the USFCA, DCZC, and NCPC to force SGI to accede to the Kennedy Center's wishes. In November 1967, the USCFA reaffirmed its approval of the Watergate project. When the DCZC appeared on the verge of giving its approval as well, the Kennedy Center argued that the DCZC had no jurisdiction over the controversy. The DCZC disagreed, and re-asserted its jurisdiction. The Kennedy Center then argued that the DCZC had not properly considered its objections, and should delay its approval pending further hearings. The District's legal counsel disagreed, giving the DCZC the go-ahead to reaffirm (or not) its approval ruling, which the Zoning Commission did on November 30, 1967. Although it appeared that SGI was winning the legal battle over the fifth building, D.C. city planners attempted to mediate the dispute between the Kennedy Center and the Watergate and achieve a contractual rather than legal solution. Three separate proposals were made to both sides on December 7, 1967 On April 22, 1968, SGI agreed to turn its fifth building slightly to the southwest in order to open up the Watergate complex a little more and give the Kennedy Center some limited open space. Although the Kennedy Center accepted the proposal, it demanded that the fifth building include apartment units (rather than be completely devoted to office space) in order to maintain the residential nature of the area. The fight now moved to the NCPC. In June 1968, the NCPC held a hearing at which more than 150 Watergate apartment residents clashed with SGI officials over the nature of the final building. On August 8, 1968, SGI and the Kennedy Center reached a resolution, agreeing that only 25 percent of the fifth building's 1700000 square feet (157,935.2 m²) would be used as office space and that the remaining space would become apartment units. The NCPC approved the revised plan in November 1968, and the DCZC did so five weeks later (specifically zoning the building for nonprofit
Non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

 and professional
A professional is a person who is paid to undertake a specialised set of tasks and to complete them for a fee. The traditional professions were doctors, lawyers, clergymen, and commissioned military officers. Today, the term is applied to estate agents, surveyors , environmental scientists,...

 use only). The fifth building was completed in January 1971. Its first tenant was the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (which secured occupancy in February 1971) and its first major tenant was the Manpower Evaluation and Development Institute (it leased the entire eighth floor). In October 1972, several high-end fashion boutiques, jewelers, and a restaurant opened in the fifth building in a retail space named "Les Champs."

The total cost of the entire project once it was finished was $78 million.

The five buildings on the site as of July 2009 are:
  • Watergate West – 2700 Virginia Avenue NW (apartments and condominiums)
  • Watergate Hotel and Office Building – 2600 Virginia Avenue NW (technically, the hotel's address is 2650 Virginia Avenue NW)
  • Watergate East – 2500 Virginia Avenue NW (apartments and condominiums)
  • Watergate South – 700 New Hampshire Avenue NW (apartments and condominiums)
  • Watergate Office Building – 600 New Hampshire Avenue NW (office building; apartments and condominiums)

Critical reception

The Watergate's initial reception was poor, but the complex soon became recognized as one of D.C.'s finest examples of modern architecture. When models of the Watergate were unveiled in 1961, critics said the structure "would ruin the waterfront". Other critics denounced it as "nonconforming" and decried it as "Antipasto on the Potomac". As noted above, many individuals also felt the complex blocked views of the Potomac River, tended to overshadow nearby monuments and other buildings, and consumed too much open space. Some residents even felt the construction of the units was substandard. Architectural critics called the detailing "clunky".

The Washington Star
Washington Star
The Washington Star, previously known as the Washington Star-News and the Washington Evening Star, was a daily afternoon newspaper published in Washington, D.C. between 1852 and 1981. For most of that time, it was the city's newspaper of record, and the longtime home to columnist Mary McGrory and...

 newspaper, however, was an early proponent of the Watergate. In May 1962, it editorialized: "It is true that the so-called 'curvilinear' design is at variance with most commercial architecture in Washington. But in our opinion the result, which places a premium on public open space and garden-like surroundings, and which proposes a quality of housing that would rank with the finest in the city, would be a distinct asset." The curving design has continued to draw praise. A noted 2006 guidebook to the city's architecture concluded that the Watergate brought a "welcome fluidity" to the city's boxy look. Others praised the complex's internal public spaces. When the Watergate East opened in 1965, The Washington Post called these areas opulent and evocative of the best in Italian design. The New York Times characterized the design as "sweeping," and complimented each building's spectacular views of the Potomac River, Virginia skyline, and monuments. Many residents later said the flowing lines reminded them of a graceful ship.

Watergate II

In 1970, as the Watergate was nearing completion, SGI proposed building a "Watergate II" apartment, hotel, and office complex on the waterfront in Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.Like the rest of northern Virginia, as well as...

, across the Potomac River from the original Watergate. Although the project initially received support from Alexandria city officials and business people, residents of the city's Old Town strongly objected. The project stalled for two years due to protests from residents and a land dispute regarding title to the waterfront land on which the project was to be sited.

The Watergate II project was eventually abandoned in favor of a much larger complex near Landmark Mall
Landmark Mall
The Landmark Mall, or Landmark Regional Shopping Center, is located in a triangle formed by Duke Street , Shirley Highway , and Van Dorn Street in Alexandria, Virginia....

 in Alexandria (a site nowhere near water).

Individual buildings at the Watergate

The entire Watergate complex was initially owned by Watergate Improvements, Inc., a division of SGI. In 1969, the Vatican sold its interest in SGI and no longer was part-owner of the Watergate. Although the Watergate was considered one of the most glamorous residences in the city, as early as 1970 residents and businesses complained of substandard construction, including a leaking roof and poor plumbing and wiring.

The three Watergate Apartment buildings total some 600 residential units. Among the many notable past occupants are the following: Alfred S. Bloomingdale
Alfred S. Bloomingdale
Alfred Schiffer Bloomingdale was an heir to the Bloomingdale's department store fortune, and the celebrated lover of murdered Hollywood model Vicki Morgan....

, Anna Chennault, Bob
Bob Dole
Robert Joseph "Bob" Dole is an American attorney and politician. Dole represented Kansas in the United States Senate from 1969 to 1996, was Gerald Ford's Vice Presidential running mate in the 1976 presidential election, and was Senate Majority Leader from 1985 to 1987 and in 1995 and 1996...

 and Elizabeth Dole
Elizabeth Dole
Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford "Liddy" Dole is an American politician who served in both the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush presidential administrations, as well as a United States Senator....

 (Watergate South), Plácido Domingo
Plácido Domingo
Plácido Domingo KBE , born José Plácido Domingo Embil, is a Spanish tenor and conductor known for his versatile and strong voice, possessing a ringing and dramatic tone throughout its range...

, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton and took the oath of office on August 10, 1993. She is the second female justice and the first Jewish female justice.She is generally viewed as belonging to...

 (Watergate South), Alan Greenspan
Alan Greenspan
Alan Greenspan is an American economist who served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States from 1987 to 2006. He currently works as a private advisor and provides consulting for firms through his company, Greenspan Associates LLC...

, Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky
Monica Samille Lewinsky is an American woman with whom United States President Bill Clinton admitted to having had an "improper relationship" while she worked at the White House in 1995 and 1996...

 (she stayed briefly at her mother's apartment in the complex), Senator Russell Long, Clare Boothe Luce
Clare Boothe Luce
Clare Boothe Luce was an American playwright, editor, journalist, ambassador, socialite and U.S. Congresswoman, representing the state of Connecticut.-Early life:...

 (after 1983), Robert McNamara
Robert McNamara
Robert Strange McNamara was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense, serving under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1968, during which time he played a large role in escalating the United States involvement in the Vietnam War...

, John
John N. Mitchell
John Newton Mitchell was the Attorney General of the United States from 1969 to 1972 under President Richard Nixon...

 and Martha Mitchell
Martha Beall Mitchell
Martha Beall Mitchell was the wife of John N. Mitchell, United States Attorney General under President Richard Nixon. Martha Mitchell gained notoriety in the press during the Nixon administration for her frequent phone calls to reporters and colorful comments on the state of the nation...

, Paul O'Neill, Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush...

, Mstislav Rostropovich
Mstislav Rostropovich
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich, KBE , known to close friends as Slava, was a Soviet and Russian cellist and conductor. He was married to the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. He is widely considered to have been the greatest cellist of the second half of the 20th century, and one of the greatest of...

, Maurice Stans
Maurice Stans
Maurice Hubert Stans was an American accountant, high-ranking civil servant, Cabinet member, and political organizer...

, Ben Stein
Ben Stein
Benjamin Jeremy "Ben" Stein is an American actor, writer, lawyer, and commentator on political and economic issues. He attained early success as a speechwriter for American presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford...

, Herbert Stein
Herbert Stein
Herbert Stein was a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and was on the board of contributors of The Wall Street Journal. He was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Nixon and President Ford. From 1974 until 1984, he was the A...

, John Warner
John Warner
John William Warner, KBE is an American Republican politician who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1972 to 1974 and as a five-term United States Senator from Virginia from January 2, 1979, to January 3, 2009...

 and Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor
Dame Elizabeth Rosemond "Liz" Taylor, DBE was a British-American actress. From her early years as a child star with MGM, she became one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age...

 (during their marriage), Caspar Weinberger
Caspar Weinberger
Caspar Willard "Cap" Weinberger , was an American politician, vice president and general counsel of Bechtel Corporation, and Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan from January 21, 1981, until November 23, 1987, making him the third longest-serving defense secretary to date, after...

, Charles Z. Wick
Charles Z. Wick
Charles Z. Wick was director of the United States Information Agency under President Ronald Reagan...

, and Rose Mary Woods
Rose Mary Woods
Rose Mary Woods was Richard Nixon's secretary from his days in the Congress in 1951, through his Vice Presidency, Presidency, and until the end of his political career. Before H.R...

. The Watergate's popularity among members of Congress and high-ranking executive branch political appointees has remained strong ever since the complex opened. So many members of the Nixon administration
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 settled there that the Washington, D.C., press commented on it and nicknamed it the "Republican Bastille". The complex enjoyed a renaissance during the early 1980s and became known as the "White House West" due to the large number of Reagan administration
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 officials living there.

The Watergate complex changed hands in the 1970s, and each building was sold off separately in the 1990s and 2000s (see below). Strict lease agreements, however, have kept the apartment buildings in residents' hands: In the Watergate South, for example, owners cannot rent their unit until a full year has passed, and no lease may last more than two years. In 1977, one of the Watergate's financiers (Nicholas Salgo) and Continental Illinois Properties bought SGI's stake in the development for $49 million. Two years later, Continental Illinois sold its interest to the National Coal Board
National Coal Board
The National Coal Board was the statutory corporation created to run the nationalised coal mining industry in the United Kingdom. Set up under the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946, it took over the mines on "vesting day", 1 January 1947...

 Pension Fund in the U.K.
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 Salgo did the same in 1986. The coal board pension fund put the Watergate complex up for sale in 1989, and estimated the complex's worth at between $70 million and $100 million. Several buildings were sold in the 1990s (for details, see below). The property was valued at $278 million in 1991. Efficiency units in that year sold for $95,000, while penthouse apartments went for $1 million or more. Various buildings were sold again in the early 2000s. In 2005, all of the retail space in the complex was put up for sale.

Little redevelopment of the site has occurred in the 40 years since the Watergate was first built. The complex still includes three luxury apartment buildings, the hotel/office building, and two office buildings. The entire development was listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

 on October 21, 2005.

Watergate East

The Watergate East apartment building is probably the second-best known of the five buildings in the development. It became the most sought-after living location in the city when it opened in 1966.

Problems with the building's construction became apparent shortly after its occupancy. The roof was leaking by 1968. The Washington Post published reports in October 1968 that SGI refused to fix the leaks unless residents dropped their opposition to the construction of the complex's fifth building. By 1970, problems at Watergate East led the press to dub the building the "Potomac Titanic," and its residents filed suit against the developer in 1971 to correct the structure's problems. Another lawsuit, filed in February 1970, sought exclusive access to the underground parking garage the cooperative claimed as its own, and demanded that the developer stop selling spaces in the residents' parking area. SGI filed a $4 million counterclaim alleging "malicious embarrassment" and five years later paid residents $600,000 to settle the cases.

The Watergate East was also the site of a major protest in 1970. In the weeks prior to the jury verdict in the trial of the Chicago Seven
Chicago Seven
The Chicago Seven were seven defendants—Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, and Lee Weiner—charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to protests that took place in Chicago, Illinois on the occasion of the 1968...

 (in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

), political activists began planning and then advertising that a protest would occur at the home of United States Attorney General
United States Attorney General
The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. The attorney general is considered to be the chief lawyer of the U.S. government...

 John N. Mitchell (who lived in the Watergate East). As expected, the verdict was handed down on February 18, 1970 (all the defendants were found not guilty of conspiracy but five were found guilty of incitement to riot). That night, more than 200 people rallied at D.C.'s All Souls Unitarian Church to prepare for the mass protest demonstration the next day. On February 19, several hundred protestors gathered in front of the Watergate East and attempted to enter the building. Several hundred police, bused in to prevent the demonstration, engaged in street fighting with protestors, forced them to retreat, and eventually launched several tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd. More than 145 protesters were arrested. Although a second protest was expected the following day, it never emerged and police spent the day drinking coffee and eating cookies and pastries baked the Watergate East's pastry shop.

The Watergate East tenants' cooperative refinanced its mortgage some time after 2000, and bought the land beneath its building.

Watergate Hotel and Office Building

The Watergate Hotel and Office Building is the best-known of the five buildings in the Watergate development.


Management and ownership of the hotel has fluctuated since the mid-1980s. Cunard Line
Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

, the cruise ship company, took over management of the hotel in 1986 and began redecorating and refurbishing the property. The British Coal Board pension fund sold the hotel portion of the building to a British-Japanese consortium in 1990 for $48 million. Blackstone Real Estate Advisors, the real estate affiliate of the Blackstone Group
Blackstone Group
The Blackstone Group L.P. is an American-based alternative asset management and financial services company that specializes in private equity, real estate, and credit and marketable alternative investment strategies, as well as financial advisory services, such as mergers and acquisitions ,...

, bought the hotel for $39 million in July 1998. For a few years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Watergate Hotel was operated by the Swissôtel
Swissôtel Hotels and Resorts is a group of hotels pitched at the higher end of the hotel market. The chain currently includes 28 properties in 15 countries....

 hotel group. But the hotel underperformed other Swissôtel operations of similar size, location, and price. Jean-Louis Palladin's eponym
An eponym is the name of a person or thing, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named...

ous restaurant in the building closed in 1996. The hotel subsequently underwent a renovation in 2000. Swissôtel was purchased by Raffles Hotels and Resorts
Raffles Hotels and Resorts
Raffles Hotels & Resorts is a collection of luxury properties located in major cities around the globe. Each hotel is known to have its own distinct personality. Raffles Hotels & Resorts is owned by Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, a Canadian-based hotel company with over 88 hotels in 27...

, and Raffles' management contract ended in May 2002. Blackstone began managing the hotel, and put it up for sale in the fall of 2002 (with an asking price of $50 million to $68 million). Monument Realty bought the hotel for $45 million in 2004 and planned to turn it into luxury apartment co-ops. But many residents in other parts of the complex (some of whom owned the 25 percent of the hotel not sold to Blackstone) argued that a hotel would better enhance the livability of the area and challenged the conversion in court. The hotel closed on August 1, 2007 for a $170 million 18-month renovation, during which the hotel rooms were intended to be roughly doubled in size to 650 square feet (60.4 m²). But the renovation never occurred, and the building sat empty—consuming $100,000 to $150,000 a month in security, heating, electricity, water, and other costs. Lehman Brothers, Monument Realty's financing partner, went bankrupt in 2008 and Monument was forced to attempt to sell the property. No buyer emerged and the Blackstone Group regained ownership of the hotel.

The Blackstone Group transferred the Watergate Hotel to its Trizec Properties subsidiary. Trizec did not pay the hotel's property taxes for 2008 (which amounted to $250,000), and estimated that it would take $100 million to make the hotel habitable due to the stalled 2007 renovation. The hotel was put on the market in May 2009, but once again no buyer emerged. The hotel was auctioned off on July 21, 2009 (with the minimum bid beginning at $1 million), but there were no buyers and Deutsche Postbank
Deutsche Postbank
Deutsche Postbank AG is a German retail bank with headquarters in Bonn. Postbank was formed from the demerger of the postal savings division of Deutsche Bundespost in 1990. It became a wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Post in 1999, and was partially spun out on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2004...

, which held the $40 million mortgage on the property, took over ownership. The bank began marketing the property for sale, and Monument Realty submitted a bid in October 2009 to buy the hotel back. Monument was outbid by developer Robert Holland and the Jumeirah Group (a luxury hotel chain based in Dubai
Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates . The emirate is located south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula and has the largest population with the second-largest land territory by area of all the emirates, after Abu Dhabi...

), but the deal collapsed in November 2009 when financing fell through. Euro Capital Properties closed on the hotel in May 2010 with plans to rehabilitate over the next two years.

Office building

The office building portion of the building contains 198000 square feet (18,394.8 m²).

In 1972, the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) occupied the entire sixth floor of the 11-story building at 2600 Virginia Avenue building. The DNC had occupied the space since the building opened in 1967. On May 28, 1972, a team of burglars working for President Richard M. Nixon's re-election campaign bugged the phones
Telephone tapping
Telephone tapping is the monitoring of telephone and Internet conversations by a third party, often by covert means. The wire tap received its name because, historically, the monitoring connection was an actual electrical tap on the telephone line...

 of and took photos in and near the DNC chairman's office. The phone taps were monitored from the burglars' rooms (first Room 419, later Room 723) at the Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge across the street at 2601 Virginia Avenue NW. During a second burglary on June 17, 1972, to replace a malfunctioning phone tap and collect more information, five of the burglars were arrested and the Watergate scandal
Watergate scandal
The Watergate scandal was a political scandal during the 1970s in the United States resulting from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement...

 began to unfold. A plaque on the sixth floor of the office building portion of the Watergate Hotel commemorates the break-in.

The break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters was not the first break-in at the Watergate. The first break-in, however, shares a remarkable connection with the DNC burglary. The first break-in at the complex was the burglary of a residential unit in 1969. The victim was Rose Mary Woods
Rose Mary Woods
Rose Mary Woods was Richard Nixon's secretary from his days in the Congress in 1951, through his Vice Presidency, Presidency, and until the end of his political career. Before H.R...

, President Nixon's personal secretary. The burglars took jewelry and some personal items. Woods would later be accused of erasing 18 and a half minutes from President Nixon's secret Oval Office
Oval Office
The Oval Office, located in the West Wing of the White House, is the official office of the President of the United States.The room features three large south-facing windows behind the president's desk, and a fireplace at the north end...

 audio taping system—specifically, the tape from June 20, 1972, that proved central to the Watergate scandal.

In 1993, the British coal board pension fund sold the office portion of the building (as well as the land under two of the three Watergate apartment buildings) to JBG Cos. (an American firm) and Buvermo Properties Inc. (a Dutch company). In 1997, JBG Cos. and Buvermo Properties sold the office building to the Blackstone Group's Trizec Properties division. Trizec put the office building up for sale for $100 million in 2005 and sold it to BentleyForbes Acquisitions LLC, a private firm owned by C. Frederick Wehba and members of the Los Angeles-based Webha family. BentleyForbes put the office tower up for sale on March 12, 2009.

Watergate South

The Watergate South has been the home to a number of notable individuals. As of 2009, perhaps its most famous resident is former Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush...

. Like the Watergate East, residents of this building have discussed buying the land beneath their building, but there is no urgency as the lease on the land does not expire until 2070.

Watergate West

Construction problems and leaks at Watergate West led the press to ridicule this building, like others in the complex, as the "Potomac Titanic." On March 2, 1971, residents of the Watergate West filed a lawsuit against SGI in which they claimed their units had defective stoves, faulty air conditioning, leaky windows and balconies, and deficient plumbing. SGI said the problems were similar to those with any new building, and that it had already spent $300,000 fixing things.

Like the Watergate East, residents of this building have discussed buying the land beneath their building but do not need to do so until the land lease expires in 2070.

Watergate Office Building

Britain's National Coal Board Pension Fund sold the Watergate Office Building to John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance in the early 1990s. The building underwent a renovation of its office spaces in 1994. The Atlantic Monthly
The Atlantic Monthly
The Atlantic is an American magazine founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1857. It was created as a literary and cultural commentary magazine. It quickly achieved a national reputation, which it held for more than a century. It was important for recognizing and publishing new writers and poets,...

 magazine owner David G. Bradley
David G. Bradley
David G. Bradley is the owner of the Atlantic Media Company, which publishes several prominent news magazines and services including The Atlantic Monthly, National Journal, The Hotline and Government Executive...

purchased the office building in 2003.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.