The Work of a Nation
Sites to See
ORIGINAL HEADQUARTERS BUILDING (OHB)
OHB was designed to reflect former DCI Allen Dulles’s vision of a location where intelligence officers could work near the policymakers in a secure and secluded environment. Construction was completed in November 1963 and consists of 1,400,000 square feet of space.
CIA MEMORIAL WALL
With the words that sculptor Harold Vogel inscribed in July 1974, “IN HONOR OF THOSE MEMBERS OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY,” this wall—with one star carved for each honored officer—stands as a silent, simple memorial.
BOOK OF HONOR
This glass-encased book sits on a marble shelf below the Memorial Wall—a small gold star representing each fallen officer. Many lines in the book are blank, indicating that even in death some names must remain secret. This memorial is a constant reminder of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and of the risks inherent in the profession of intelligence.
On the floor of the OHB lobby entrance, this 16-foot-diameter inlaid granite seal has been the CIA emblem since it was approved by President Harry Truman in 1950. The seal has three main features: an American bald eagle, our national bird and a symbol of strength and alertness; a shield, the standard symbol of defense; and a 16-point compass rose, representing intelligence from around the world, converging at a central point.
OFFICE OF STRATEGIC SERVICES (OSS) MEMORIAL
A single star carved into the wall represents the 116 officers who lost their lives while serving in the OSS during WWII. The names of the fallen are listed in the OSS Book of Honor enclosed in a glass case on a marble pedestal.
During World War II, Major General William J. Donovan directed the OSS, the CIA’s predecessor. Although he never officially held the title of “Director of Central Intelligence,” the CIA considers him the first DCI because of the importance he placed on intelligence. His leadership and legacy ensured the US would have an intelligence-gathering agency that operated during peacetime as well as war.
NEW HEADQUARTERS BUILDING (NHB)
In the early 1980s, the Agency’s need for additional office space was clear. NHB was designed to expand OHB while blending seamlessly with its structure and design. The two six-story office towers, sky-lit lobby, and glass-walled atrium were completed in March 1991.
NEW HEADQUARTERS BUILDING (NHB) ATRIUM
Suspended from the ceiling of NHB’s glass-enclosed atrium are one-sixth-scale models of the U-2, A-12, and D-21 photoreconnaissance aircraft.
DIRECTORS PORTRAIT GALLERY
Displayed in this gallery are official portraits of the former Directors of Central Intelligence and Central Intelligence Agency. Each portrait is painted by an artist of the Director’s choosing after the Director leaves office.
INTELLIGENCE ART GALLERY
A growing collection of mission-related, intelligence-themed paintings are displayed in the gallery under the aegis of the CIA Museum and the CIA Fine Arts Commission. Each work of art depicts a significant event in intelligence history.
The Headquarters Auditorium is commonly nicknamed “The Bubble” because of its bubble- or igloo-like shape. The Bubble is home to special events, prominent speakers, and conferences.
This valuable resource to the Intelligence Community contains approximately 125,000 books, subscribes to about 1,200 periodicals, and provides on-line access to some 35,000 periodicals.
The CIA compound has five museum galleries: the CIA in Afghanistan Gallery, the Cold War Gallery, the Directorate of Intelligence Gallery, the Directorate of Science & Technology Gallery, and the Office of Strategic Services Gallery. These museums are not open to the public, but can be viewed on the Headquarters Virtual Tour found on the CIA’s public web site, www.cia.gov.
James Sanborn’s sculpture, “Kryptos” (meaning “hidden” in Greek) begins at the entrance to the New Headquarters Building and continues in the northwest corner of the New Headquarters Building courtyard. Dedicated on November 3, 1990, the theme of this three-part installation is “intelligence gathering.” The sculpture continues to be a source of pleasure and mystery for Agency employees, with a few taking the challenge to “break the code.”
BERLIN WALL MONUMENT
These three sections of reinforced concrete were removed from the Berlin Wall near Checkpoint Charlie at Potsdamer Platz in November 1989. Dedicated at the CIA in December 1992, the monument is oriented as it was in Berlin—the west side painted with graffiti, reflecting the color, hope, and optimism of the west; in stark contrast, the east side whitewashed, plain and devoid of color and life.
The courtyard is located between the New and Original Headquarters Buildings. It is a popular setting for lunch, a chat with a colleague, or a short break in the fresh air. With its broad grassy lawn, fishpond and flowering plants and trees, the courtyard provides an attractive venue for special events.
Through the quiet beauty of living nature, the garden is a memorial to all deceased intelligence officers and contractors who served their country. The words, “In remembrance of those whose unheralded efforts served a grateful nation,” are cast in a brass plaque to ensure the living will not forget the fallen.
In the early 1960s, CIA contracted with Lockheed to produce the A-12 supersonic reconnaissance aircraft. During testing, the A-12 reached a speed of Mach 3.29 (over 2,200 mph) and an altitude of 90,000 feet. The A-12 flew only 29 missions before being replaced by the US Air Force’s SR-71, a modified version of the A-12. Despite its brief use, the A-12 remains the fastest, highest-flying, piloted operational jet aircraft ever built.
To visit the Headquarters Virtual tour, click here.