The National Archives Building is arguably the most compelling repository of American history in the United States. It houses the original documents upon which the country’s founding fathers outlined a bold vision for liberty and democracy. These documents, the Charters of Freedom, include the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The Archives building resides on one of the most popular tourist thoroughfares in the world, the National Mall on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.
In the 1990s, the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) determined that significant renovations to the Main Archives Building were necessary to accommodate swelling crowds of annual visitors and to protect the vital documents housed within the building’s walls. Heery was retained to serve as construction manager for building renovations to the National Archives and to serve as design consultant for new encasements to protect the Charters of Freedom.
Heery began working with NARA to formulate a phased renovation plan for the 900,000 SF National Archives Building. The plan outlined all renovation details and recommendations for barrier-free access to the Constitution Avenue side of the building. In addition to renovations of the main Rotunda and development of new encasements for the Charters of Freedom, the renovations called for greatly expanded exhibit space, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant accessibility that would relocate the building entry to street level, a 288-seat (plus handicapped seating) auditorium and additional office space for archivists and other staff. Included in the project were expanded thoroughfares for group tours and facilities for genealogy research, a cafeteria and bookstore with National Archives related publications.