Behind the Scenes of the Washington Post's New Digs at One Franklin Square
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After 43 years as a landmark at 1150 15th St NW, the Washington Post moved just three blocks away into new digs last week at One Franklin Square on K St. Bisnow was lucky enough to be invited for a private tour of the twin-tower edifice.
We took the tour even as construction workers continued to build out the new space and extend the venerated newspaper and its multimedia products farther into the 21st century.
Even before the Graham family sold the Post building (which will be torn down to make room for the spiffy new Fannie Mae HQ) in 2013 to Carr Properties for $159M they hired real estate consultants JM Zell Partners to search for new offices. So by the time Jeff Bezos completed his purchase of the Post for $250M that October, the search had been narrowed to four sites. Bezos and Post executives chose the 12-story building overlooking Franklin Square, said to be the fifth-tallest building in DC.
The monthly rent checks get mailed to owner Hines Interests of Houston. Washington Post CFO Steve Gibson wouldn't disclose any of the costs associated with the massive undertaking, merely saying everyone's lips are sealed.
The heart of the new Gensler-designed facilities is the atrium-like, multi-platform digital newsroom that covers a total of 120k SF across floors 7 and 8.
Below you’ll find much of the 700-person newsroom staff, which includes national and metro reporters, video and photo editors, copy editors, foreign staff editors and mobile producers. Sports, features, editorial, design and graphics are up top on the eighth floor. Once completed, a broad staircase will allow for even greater (and faster) collaboration among staffers.
Twenty-one monitors cover network news channels and some websites for breaking news. We thought the largest monitor in the center of the newsroom was for stock market news, the numbers were moving so fast. But this big board actually tracks how many readers around the world are perusing Post stories online at any moment. Last month that number topped 71M, deputy managing editor Tracy Grant told us.
In a nod to the past, a glass wall re-creates old Post headlines and lead paragraphs in various font sizes. One wall in the lobby will display in linotype letters former publisher Eugene Meyer’s (Katherine Graham’s dad) “Seven Principles for the Conduct of a Newspaper,” authored in the 1930s.
To build the newsroom, construction workers made three slab cuts to accommodate the interior staircase and opened several walls to increase spaciousness and natural light.
But there’s actually less overall space in the new facility (242k SF) than in the old (400k SF), but much of that housed the long-gone composing rooms and presses, Tracy explained.
Meanwhile construction continues apace on other facilities such as a two-story public events center and auditorium and a state-of-the-art food lab for product and recipe testing. Silly us, we thought it was going to be the new staff lunch room.