A tale of two buildings
1/12/2018 12:28:14 PM

By Glenn Stevens, NCHM President

Earlier this week I was in Washington, DC with NCHM senior instructors Lisa Vercauteren and Jo Ikelheimer. After a nice meal we discussed many things, including our redesigned COS program and our new Rural Housing program. Then I asked my dinner companions if they wanted to have some real fun. Puzzled, they asked what I had in mind. Trump International, I said. They were all in, so off we went.

HUD headquarters in Washington DC (top) and Trump International Hotel in the same city.

After finding most of the doors to the hotel locked, we finally found the hotel entrance on the opposite side of the building. Having last been in this building when it was the Old Post Office, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at the beauty, grandeur, and tastefulness of the hotel. When Jo came back from the ladies room I asked her how it was. “Gilded,” she said in her distinct North Carolina twang. I must say that I was unpleasantly surprised by the bar bill, but hey, we are talking about a brand that is proudly about luxury.

Heading home in my Uber I began to think of another Trump building, the one at 7th and D street, also known as the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It was impossible not to juxtapose the two buildings. And it occurred to me that, if the President really wanted to do something drastic, he should raze and rebuild the HUD building. Seriously, Buzzfeed.com lists HUD headquarters as one of the seven ugliest federal buildings in the capitol. The building was erected in 1966 when, Buzzfeed says, "the federal government only hired architects with early onset glaucoma." When you arrive, you are met with a series of confusing flying saucers in front of the building and very odd space pods for security personnel – more fitting for NASA than HUD. Buzzfeed insists the building was designed by Buzz Lightyear.

The HUD building is drab and spiritless in a city that boasts some of the most beautiful buildings – Trump International included – and monuments in the world. I love this beautiful city but some of our federal buildings need a serious makeover, if not a complete do-over.

The most disturbing thing about the HUD building is the empty, cold feeling you get inside, surrounded by nothing but 50-year-old concrete. It seems to me that, if there is any building in our nation's capital that should exude warmth and welcome and celebrate the virtues of shelter, it should be the HUD building. And it should resemble, just a little bit, that beautiful hotel just a few blocks away.

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