Coast Guard’s striking new HQ set to open its doors

The U.S. Coast Guard's new headquarters occupy a hillside overlooking the Anacostia River and downtown Washington, D.C. Digging out the Coast Guard portion alone involved the largest excavation project in DC history, creating 1.6 million cubic yards of dirt. (All photos by Christopher P. Cavas)

The U.S. Coast Guard, which can trace its lineage back to 1789, is about to finally get something it’s never, ever, had: a headquarters specifically designed just for them.

And this is not just any old HQ. It’s part of the most expensive, largest federal building project in Washington since the Pentagon was built in World War II. It’s a terraced, nuanced series of buildings that embody the latest in green, ecologically-friendly technology. And, located just across the Anacostia River from its former headquarters and Nationals Park, the new digs have one of the best — and hitherto rarely seen — views of the capital to be found anywhere around the region.

Ultimately, the entire complex, on land formerly occupied by the federally-owned Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital, will house all 20 agencies of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and up to 14,000 employees. But the Coast Guard has first dibs and — four years after the start of construction — the buildings will welcome their first Coastie tenants starting in early August. The service expects to complete the transfer from the old Buzzards Point HQ by November.

We were lucky enough to fly, in a government aircraft, over the site on July 10, and got off a few snaps of the new complex. 


The Coast Guard’s web pages about the new headquarters.

General Services Administration description of the building project.

Nearly all the roofs of the headquarter buildings are planted with greenery. Water running down the terraces and caught in building drains is gathered in cachement pools at the bottom of the complex.

Seen looking east from an aircraft over the Anacostia River, the new DHS/USCG complex rises above Interstate 295. The federally-owned Anacostia Helicopter Facility is in the foreground.

Christopher P. Cavas
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Christopher P. Cavas

If it's on, over, under or around the water, I write about it. Ships and aircraft, units, tactics, leadership, strategies, acquisition, politics, industry. In the USA and around the world.
Christopher P. Cavas
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