Earlier this week, the Obama administration quietly announced that it is launching a new defense agency "to combat the deepening threat from cyberattacks." Meanwhile, in the last couple of years, the NSA has come under fire for a host transgressions, dubious wiretapping, and ogling your potentially NSFW selfies. Edward Snowden is hiding in Russia for righteous whistleblowing and opening Pandora's box questions about government surveillance. What actually happens behind closed doors or subterranean war rooms remains inscrutable at best — but who's asking tough questions like "which quasi-secret government agency has the sexiest headquarters?"
Here are some of the national police and intelligence buildings from around the globe. Certain tropes appear, such as faux-colonnades, reflective glass, imposing scale, and the classic round, turret-like massing.
NSA Headquarters. Image via Wikipedia
The NSA is sometimes referred to as "No Such Agency," due to its secretive nature. The building echoes this sentiment, as it is meant to look like a generic office building, covered in dark, reflective glass.
Interpol Headquarters. Image via wikipedia.org
Interpol's headquarters in Lyon, France, is also a reflective glass box, with column-like sculptural additions on the front, giving the impression of power and institutional clout.
Interpol Global Complex for Innovation by Studio505.
The International Policing Agency opened this state-of-the art research facility in 2014 to house experimental research on how to better fight cybercrime, environmental crime, counterfeiting, corruption in football/soccer, and Asian criminal syndicates.
CIA Headquarters. Image via www.cia.gov
This 1960's modernist gem was designed by Harrison and Abramovitz, who also worked on the UN Building and Lincoln Center in New York.
British Government Communications Headquarters. Image via Wikipedia
The British version of the NSA has this circular building that invariably draws comparisons to Apple's campus.
Hungarian Police Headquarters. Image via wikipedia.org
Hungary's National Police HQ has many of the tropes of the typology: references to a colonnade on the front, mirrored glass, and an imposing scale.
British Secret Intelligence Service Headquarters. Image via wikipedia.org
This fortress-like complex features round, turret-inspired masses to the front, and a symmetrical layout.
Ministry of National Security of Azerbaijan. Image via www.oobject.com
Azerbaijan has a long and storied architectural history, including some great examples of Brutalism, like the Ministry of National Security.
Czech Security Information Service Headquarters. Image via wikipedia.org
This elegant building represents the legacy of the Bauhaus and Mies in Prague.
Bonus: Former Romanian Securitate. Image via wikipedia.org
This former security forces building has a stunning addition, and now houses the Romanian Architects Association.