The relocation of the Oval Office from the White House to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building has been postponed by one year, according to a senior administration official who is familiar with the project. “It will now be in early 2014,” he tells us. The delay was corroborated by another person who works at the White House.
Earlier this year we reported exclusively that the President would be moved out of the Oval Office for possibly as long as a year, while electrical wiring and other elements were upgraded. A source said at the time that “the whole West Wing except for the Situation Room” would be moved to the EEOB. The Situation Room underwent a top-to-bottom upgrade.
Had Mitt Romney won the presidency in yesterday’s national election, there was an expectation by those overseeing the renovation project that “he wouldn’t buy into it,” said the White House source, meaning the relocation to the EEOB. “He wouldn’t want to lose the symbolism of the Oval Office.”
When President Obama eventually moves to the EEOB, he will use the office once known as President Richard Nixon’s “hideaway.” It is considerably smaller than the Oval Office. It is on a lower floor and part of a suite of other offices. Famously, it is one of the rooms in which Nixon made surreptitious recordings of his conversations with staff and visitors. According to the senior administration official, staffers who currently work in the West Wing will have to be relocated to the EEOB. The popular White House Mess, where top-level staff are served meals, which over the years have included veggie burgers, a “lone star cowboy” steak, and Mexican dishes, also has to be closed for repair work.
A major construction project has been underway on the White House grounds for at least a year. Much of the work is hidden by temporary buildings and large white canopies.