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A First Look Inside the Washington Post‘s New Newsroom

A First Look Inside the <em>Washington Post</em>‘s New Newsroom
Exterior of 1301 K Street, Northwest. All photographs by Andrew Beaujon.

The Washington Post‘s current headquarters at 1150 15th Street, Northwest, reflects journalism in 1972 well: Reporters and editors cluster near others with similar beats. Need some quiet for a meeting, an interview, or a phone call? Go outside, or hope you can book some time in a conference room (or better yet, meet a source in a similarly charming parking garage). And most of the Post‘s product engineers–the people who help design technology that helps journalists reach readers–are stashed away from those journalists on another floor.

The Post will move to a new headquarters in mid-December, and its new space at 1301 K Street, Northwest, will be able to reflect journalism for years to come, no matter how it may change. “We’re designing the space to be the newsroom of the future,” says Steve Gibson, the Post‘s CFO and the person in charge of moving the news organization into its new building on Franklin Square. “We’ve tried at every step to future-proof the design and the construction.”

So journalists, get comfortable talking to engineers! Many of them will be sitting among you. (They’ll be easy to spot: Look for people who wear sandals year-round and have mugs that look like this.)

READ ALSO: HOW MANY TRUCKS DOES IT TAKE TO MOVE THE WASHINGTON POST?

“We’ve taken advantage of things that are commonplace in more modern office environments,” Gibson says, allowing the Post to provide what he calls “collaborative spaces”–soft furniture, conference rooms, “huddle rooms.”

A huddle room.

There are also outdoor spaces available: There are a number of rooftop terraces on the building, which he describes as “almost like a wedding cake as you go up.”

Also, you may wish to acquaint yourself with a phenomenon called “natural light”–the windows in the building fill the space with an impressive amount of the stuff.

The Post takes up floors four through nine in 1301 K’s west tower, and the newsroom will be on floors seven and eight in the east tower. They’re all connected. The center of the new space is the “hub,” the center of the newsroom’s 24-hour operation. Executive Editor Marty Baron will sit just off the hub in a glass-walled office on the seventh floor, with a conference room named for former executive Ben Bradlee on the other side, near a staircase to the upper half of the newsroom. A slab cut in the ceiling allows the hub to join both floors, and it will be ringed by monitors showing internal metrics as well as video content from the Post and elsewhere.

A view of the hub.
The conference room named for Ben Bradlee.

As previously reported on this blog, the Post‘s new desks have good storage space and–this is important–USB outlets.

The seventh floor was mostly desk-free when I visited–there’s still a lot of work going on, as you can see–but the eighth floor had a lot of workstations, including a few in what may be the best spot in the building.

An office with a view of Franklin Square? Sweet.

The new space will instead include kitchenette areas with meet-up spaces for conversations over food. Don’t want to bring something in from home? A brief survey of Washingtonian food and lifestyle staffers yielded some Franklin Square-area recommendations: Takeout from Woodward Table; soups and salads from Devon & Blakely; burritos from Pedro & Vinny’s. And, of course, the food trucks that camp out on the square.

In terms of other amenities: The new building has a fitness center with a locker room, and bike commuters will be able to lock up in a secured, dedicated room in the parking garage.

Behold. The bike room.

The fourth floor will host the Post‘s events and conference facilities. The old Washington Post sign from 1150 15th will be on this wall as you come off the elevator.

There’s a large conference room behind that wall named for the Graham family, which used to own the Post.

The two-floor conference/event space is massive and was built in the space between 1301 K and its neighbor; divider “air walls” can reshape it into three smaller spaces.

Just south of that room is a quirky little feature–windows that use part of the Almas Temple façade next door.

The architects have emphasized contrasting textures in the space. Some parts of the floors are carpeted; corridors tend to be polished concrete. The pillars are stripped down to concrete, too. Other common areas use wood as a contrasting texture. Some parts of the ceiling will be tiled; others will have acoustic fins to deaden noise and also look cool.

Concrete pillars.
A section of polished-concrete floor.
Some textures.

The move is on schedule, Gibson says. HR VP Wayne Connell‘s call for employees to stop printing out so much stuff has resonated, and a lot of people have purged their spaces of unecessary crap. Gibson declined to identify the Post‘s biggest packrat: “We have a lot of them,” he says. “We’ve really tried to make sure there’s not a surprise on moving day when we have excess things to move.” That’s good news, hoarders: “Nothing is going to be left behind,” Gibson says. Okay, it’s sort of good news, hoarders: “Nothing of value will be left behind,” he says a moment later. The Post has digitized a lot of paper records and moved others to be stored offsite. (Here are some more stats on the move.)

What about all the furniture in the old HQ? “A lot of it, quite frankly, is going to disappear with the building,” Gibson says. “There’s a couple pieces that are historically significant, and those are being featured in the new space.” They’ll be “sprinkled throughout” the new facility.

Was there anything he’ll miss about the old space? Gibson cautioned that he hasn’t been at the Post long enough to form a sentimental attachment to the digs. “There certainly is nostalgia associated with the building; there’s an awful lot that’s been accomplished here,” he says. “But in terms of the space itself, I can’t think of a single thing.”

Indeed, DC’s Preservation League didn’t even bother trying to get the old building landmark status. “The first thing that’s going to happen is they’re going to tear it down,” Gibson says. “That speaks to the age and ability of this place to adapt to modern workplaces.”

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.