The location of the U.S. Institute of Peace headquarters building at the Northwest corner of the National Mall is symbolic: situated near this country’s most iconic memorials to Americans’ service in war, USIP represents a complementary part of the country’s story. It stands as a living monument that embodies and reflects America’s commitment to peace.
The building is the hub for USIP’s conflict management work around the world, and a venue for high-level events, trainings and other meetings and activities that advance the institute’s peacebuilding mission.
USIP opened its original office two years after the institute’s creation by Congress and signing into law by President Reagan in 1984. It was located in a townhouse facing Lafayette Park, less than a block from the White House in Washington, D.C.
In 1992, Congress authorized USIP to pursue private donations as part of a private-public partnership for the specific purpose of building a permanent headquarters. That effort eventually was led by former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and the University of Notre Dame’s president emeritus, the Reverend Theodore Hesburgh. Shultz was the secretary of state at the time of USIP's founding and a member of the institute’s board of directors. Hesburgh also was an early USIP board member.
In 1996, Congress authorized the transfer to USIP of a parking lot owned by the U.S. Navy at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue NW, adjacent to the National Mall in Washington D.C. This land was designated to become the Institute’s eventual headquarters.
In 2004, Congress appropriated money for the publicly funded portion of the construction of USIP’s permanent headquarters at that location. Four years later, President George W. Bush, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid joined former Secretary of State Shultz and the Reverend Hesburgh in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Institute’s headquarters in 2008. Architect Moshe Safdie, who came to world renown in 1967 for his Habitat 67 housing complex for that year’s Montreal World’s Fair and went on to design Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center that opened in 2005 in Israel, was selected to design USIP’s new building.
USIP moved into its new headquarters in March 2011.
The Peace Trail on the National Mall
The Northwest corner of the National Mall could be considered the “War and Peace Corner” of our nation’s capital. It is home to this country’s most famous veterans memorials, which draw tens of millions of visitors each year. It is also home to the headquarters of the U.S. Institute of Peace, and to other symbols and sites with peace themes, which, while generally less prominent, offer an important and complementary narrative.
In 2017, USIP launched the Peace Trail on the National Mall to further enhance the experience of visiting our nation’s capital. Anchored at USIP and tracing a path to a dozen other key sites in the vicinity, the reference guide highlights peace themes, elevating examples of key figures, institutions and moments in history that demonstrate America’s enduring commitment to peace.