UPI News Release on World Headquarters/Downtown Revitalization



Here's a Feb. 29, 1984, UPI news release on the opening of its new World Headquarters in Washington, D.C. (written by David Wickenden):

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UPI JOINS DOWNTOWN WASHINGTON REVITALIZATION DRIVE

WASHINGTON -- UPI's new World Headquarters Building stands at the corner of 14th and Eye streets, three blocks from the White House. With its post-modern exterior, highlighted by large brass lettering identifying it as the United Press International Building, the structure testifies to a new vitality that is transforming the face of downtown Washington.

Inside, covering 30,000 square feet on the eighth and ninth floors is the news hub of the world's largest independent news agency. Winding through the floors and snaking down to a sub- street network of wires are more than 27,000 feet of datacable, radio and telephone cables that speed much of UPI's daily news report -- amounting to 13 million words a day -- to newspapers, broadcasters and other subscribers around the world.

The new facilities were designed specifically to UPI's specifications and requirements. They provide a maximum amount of space, light and comfort for UPI employees; they enable greater interaction and direct cooperation between news, Newspictures and broadcast editors; and they include the most sophisticated newsgathering and dissemination capabilities in the industry.

Stretching across the eighth floor are 72 work stations for UPI's national and international news service, five editorial offices, and the bureau's communications department. Also located on the eighth floor is UPI's large Newspictures department. Four new studios have been constructed to house the department's black- and-white and color processing and printing facilities. The studios contain virtually all new and fully automated processing, printing and enlarging equipment, giving UPI the finest photo production facilities in the industry. Soon to be installed will be UPI's new digital darkroom -- state-of-the-art equipment that will enable UPI photo editors to re-caption, crop and enhance picture quality electronically, as well as to automatically sort, direct and move pictures across the world.

On the ninth floor are located 21 executive and administrative offices and, shortly, the new headquarters of the UPI Radio Network. The UPIRN's new offices will include six new studios, four managerial offices, three preparation rooms, four editing slots and an engineering department. With 24 percent more operating space and a fully computerized electronic newsroom, the redesigned and consolidated UPI Radio Network studios will ensure greater news and traffic flow efficiency.

The UPI building's location in the heart of Washington's Franklin Square area has a special significance. The revitalization of this neighborhood, a focal point in the District's 20-year Comprehensive Downtown Plan, has intensified over the last two years. Though redevelopment is not yet complete, the neighborhood has become the fastest growing business district in the city. Fifteen new office buildings have been built in the Franklin Square area since 1981, containing approximately two million square feet of commercial space, of which about 55 percent was occupied by December 1983.

UPI recognized both the short- and long-term value of joining such a development boom early, and was not alone. Neighbors for the 77-year-old news agency include the American Medical Association; American Nurses Association; National Food Processors Association; German Hi-Fi; Dart Drug/Crown Books; and over a dozen law firms. These new tenants brought more than 3,000 additional employees into the neighborhood during the last two years.

The UPI building is located directly over a Metro stop and is a 10-minute drive to the airport, offering distinct logistical advantages to both UPI employees and guests. It is a five-minute walk from the White House and a block from Washington's new Convention Center. The neighborhood's central location offers easy access to Pennsylvania Avenue, including the "new" Old Post Office, and National Place, which will offer a variety of restaurants and shops. Major hotels within or adjacent to Franklin Square include the Vista International, the Madison, the Hay Adams, the Henley Park, the Sheraton-Carlton and the Capital Hilton.

In a striking example of public and private sector developers, city officials, banks, retailers and office tenants, formed the Franklin Square Association in July 1983 and has since undertaken an aggressive program to enhance the business and social environment of the neighborhood. One of the association's major drives has been to actively enforce zoning, building and liquor laws, forcing changes in the operation of several sexually oriented businesses that historically were prevalent in the area. A number of these establishments have already been closed.

The Franklin Square Association has teamed up with the American Association of Nurserymen, an area tenant, and the National Park Service to implement a phased plan to restore Franklin Park to its former beauty. The proposed plan includes more floral plantings, beautification of the existing fountain, a sidewalk cafe for outdoor lunching and a gazebo/bandstand for performing groups.

"Our move to Washington is a good fit," said Douglas F. Ruhe, chief executive officer of United Press International. "As the focus for national and international news, it is the right place for UPI to be. And as a city that is responding to the challenges of the 1980s with vigor and imagination, it is also an exciting and appropriate place for us to be."

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