We blogged about the phenomenon of tearing down or otherwise effacing buildings where terrible crimes were committed. It was announced that the Navy Yard office building in Washington, D.C., the site of the recent mass shooting in which 12 people were killed, is going to be extensively remodeled at a cost of $6.4 million so as to change the interior so that it won’t conjure up bad associations.
Navy officials have given no indication they plan to tear down Building 197, which is now closed. In fact, they’re moving toward renovating the 650,000-square-foot structure in Southeast Washington. A $6.4 million repair-and-restoration contract awarded Monday to Englewood, Colo.-based CH2M Hill Constructors, refers prominently to the tragedy and the building’s history.
“The repairs shall be done in a manner that changes the feel, finish, appearance and layout of the space, creating a different sense of place and mitigating the psychological and emotional impacts that the facility itself could have on returning occupants,” the contract reads.
The contractor also is expected to develop multiple design concepts, possibly including extensive changes to the building’s entrances and exterior finishes. . . .
Navy Yard Building 197, built in the 1800s, was once a naval gun factory. It was converted to office space for up to 3,000 workers in the past two decades, becoming the headquarters a few years ago for the Naval Sea Systems Command, where most of the victims were either civilian Navy employees or contract workers.
Officials haven’t decided whether to keep the command based there.
Naval Sea Systems Command intends to create some sort of memorial in or near the building, command spokesman Christopher Johnson said.
Family members of two slain workers said they’re confident the Navy will be sensitive to the emotional impact on people returning to the building.
Tracey Ridgell’s husband, Richard “Mike” Ridgell, was killed while guarding the building’s main entrance. She said she has asked to go inside.
“We need to deal with the reality,” she said. “It helps you heal.”
But she said those who survived gunman Aaron Alexis’s Sept. 16 rampage before he was killed by police shouldn’t have to be reminded of those events by returning through the same turnstiles where her husband was a cheerful, daily presence.
“I was told that the entrance where Mike worked will be sealed and no one will walk through those doors again,” Tracey Ridgell said. “I think this is fitting.”