Located at the intersection of 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue, the United States Institute of Peace Headquarters occupies the last prominent site on the National Mall facing the Lincoln Memorial. As the headquarters for the institute, the building contains administrative offices, research facilities including a library and archives, a conference center and an interactive educational center dedicated to the theme of peacemaking. The building is organized around two atria fanning out from a corner entrance – one facing the Potomac River, the other the Mall and the Lincoln Memorial. The first atrium serves as the centerpiece for the spaces devoted to scholarly research, while the other acts as a focus of public activity and conferences. A secondary public entrance is provided directly from the Mall into the museum.
Given its extraordinary location, adjacent to many other memorials, the institute’s headquarters is by definition a structure that symbolically represents peace on the capital’s skyline. The atria are roofed by a series of undulating spherical and toroidal winglike elements constructed of steel frame and white translucent glass. The roofs appear opaque and white on the exterior during the day and glow from within at night. The roof structures are visible from many places along the National Mall as well as from the western entry to the city across the bridges from Virginia.