White House to get $376M renovation

CAJ note: While walking back to our hotel from the Restoring Honor rally we saw what we believed were building materials being delivered to a gate at the White House. This article confirms that.

First extensive update since Truman era

Gannett News
via Chicago Sun-Times
5/22/2010

Anyone who has gone through home renovations can sympathize with what President Obama and his family are about to endure.

Starting this weekend, jackhammers and backhoes will be at work as the White House undergoes the biggest renovation project at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in more than five decades.

The heating, cooling, electrical and fire-alarm systems will be replaced during the four-year, $376 million project in the East and West Wings.

“This is the biggest upgrade since the complete renovation of the executive mansion in the Truman era,” Bob Peck of the General Services Administration told Bloomberg News.

Tourists walking along on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House should be forewarned: If you want a snapshot of the North Portico, the lawn is going to be torn up. And those TV journalists who do their stand-ups at the edges of the North Lawn? Sorry, you’ll have to move.

A few weeks after his inauguration, Obama told NBC the “best deal of this whole thing is it turns out I’ve got this nice home office.”

Obama and his family will get to stay in the White House during the renovations, unlike Harry Truman, who moved into the Blair House when the building’s main structure was completely rebuilt during his term.

At least the Obamas won’t be disrupted at the crack of dawn: Peck said construction work will occur only from 7:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.

The West Wing, built in 1902, houses the Oval Office, the vice president’s office, the Cabinet Room, the Situation Room and various offices for top presidential aides. The East Wing, added in 1942, is occupied mostly by the first lady and her staff, the White House military office and the Secret Service, and includes a movie theater.

The price tag is more than 100 times the total cost of building the White House in the 1790s, Bloomberg reports.

Congress approved funding for the project in 2008 after some of the systems in the White House were deemed to be approaching the end of their “reliable productivity.”

The GSA said the project would take four years.

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