Designed and built by the prominent construction firm Stone & Webster, the Buzzard Point Power Plant stands as an emblem of technological and artistic advancement in Southwest Washington. While various individuals owned the property and attempted to settle the area prior to the development of the land, the area remained largely undeveloped and unloved by the District community. Even as early as the 1800s, residents disliked the area as it was often filled with a larger than usual amount of black-winged buzzards. Additional health hazards, such as the routine dumping of refuse and sewer system runoff in the area, contributed to a less than sterling reputation for Buzzard Point.
Various proposals to turn the area into a canal, railroad center, trash incinerator, and private factory all failed—until the construction of the PEPCO Buzzard Point Power Plant. With architect George R. Wryen on staff, construction began in October1932 and concluded by the next year, when PEPCO held an inauguration to open the $4 million dollar building. The plant was expanded into the 1940s, as its increased capacity helped power the war effort at the nearby Washington Navy Yard. The power plant is designed in the Art Moderne industrial style, with a brick and stone-clad structural system of reinforced steel and concrete. The streamlined building is especially notable for the three octagonal chimneystacks above its west elevation. The monument-like feel of the structure can also be attributed to the clerestory at the center of the low-slung roof.
DC Inventory: February 24, 2022