Founded in 1888 by a group of high-level scholars, scientists, and adventurers, the National Geographic Society (NGS) has become a well-recognized scholastic and journalistic source for stories, maps, and photographs about science, exploration, and conservation. The four-building complex inhabited by the NGS has served as an exhibition space and publication office for over 40 years. Each of the buildings has a significant organizational, architectural, and local history that together forms the broader story of the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C.
Hubbard Hall: Designed by architects Hornblower & Marshall, this Classical-Revival style building was constructed in 1904 through funding from the Bell and Hubbard families. As the first headquarters building for the NGS, Hubbard Hall was created with the intention of being both a functioning office and a comfortable communal meeting space for academic discussions. The building is an iconic structure on 16th Street, distinguished by its hipped roof with terracotta tiles, large arched windows, and a stone surround with a cross setting that reads “National Geographic Society.”
16th Street Administration Building: Designed by prominent Washington architect Arthur B. Heaton, this Classical-Revival style structure is clad in limestone with double-leaf brass doors and rusticated stonework. Constructed in 1912, the style is indicative of larger architectural trends in D.C. during the early 20th century. The administration building is connected to Hubbard Hall via a paved brick courtyard with granite steps. Additions were added to the building in 1931 and 1949.
National Geographic Society Headquarters: Internationally prominent architect Edward Durell Stone designed this memorable Modern building in a New Formalist style with reinforced concrete hung with white marble. Constructed with minimum ornamentation, clear lines, and vertical orientation, the building was completed in 1963 and dedicated in 1964 to much fanfare.
M Street Addition (Non-Contributing): This office and auditorium building does not reflect the historical and architectural design of the aforementioned structures included in the National Geographic Society Headquarters. Designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, and constructed in 1984 with pale pink concrete panels and a mechanical penthouse, this non-contributing structure serves a function in the NGS, but does not contribute to the historic significance of the campus.
Today, the National Geographic Society continues to utilize the headquarters as a museum exhibit space, working offices, and community education center.
DC Inventory: March 24, 2022
Hubbard Hall & Administration Building Located Within the Sixteenth Street Historic District