Navy Renovating 169-Year Old Buildings to Preserve Branch’s History

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The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) held a groundbreaking for the Operational Archives and Repository Complex, a planned $40.7 million renovation project in Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard, first reported by Bisnow.

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The project will be comprised of two buildings totaling 58,000 square feet and will replace existing buildings that were originally constructed back in 1851. The buildings will house some of the Navy’s intellectual property and the Navy’s most at-risk collections.

“This new project underscores the vital role the Naval History and Heritage Command serves in preserving our Navy’s institutional memory,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said in a prepared release. “With this archival complex, we will continue to remember and present an accurate history of our Navy and tell the stories of those who have gone before us for generations to come.”

The current facilities were not constructed to house artifacts and many of them lack appropriate environmental controls, which necessitated the renovation.

“For several years, the Library and Archives have fought to protect Navy’s intellectual property and heritage from the ravages of heat, humidity, water leaks, and cold,” Kristina Giannotta, assistant director of NHHC Histories and Archives Division, said. “Records and photographs stored in these areas were subject to mold and damage, requiring Navy to pay for mold remediation for records and photos.”

Once completed, the complex will be home to the Navy’s Operational Archives, Department of the Navy Library, Rare Book Room, Navy Art Collection, and the Underwater Archeology Conservation Laboratory.

The new facility will also expand the Underwater Archaeology Branch’s ability to advise the Navy on matters related to historic preservation as it pertains to military ship and aircraft wreck sites.

“As the organization responsible for the management, research, preservation, and interpretation of the U.S. Navy’s sunken military craft, this facility will only further enable our staff to accomplish our mission,” Robert Neyland, UA Branch Head, said.

The new facility is expected to be completed by 2022.