south roof


north roof


south wall


west wall

institute of peace

The headquarters of the American Institute of Peace in Washington D.C. are located directly opposite the Lincoln Memorial. Moshe Safdie & Associates, Inc. has grouped the Institute buildings around two glass-roofed atria. The roofs are in the form of a dove and an olive branch, and can be recognised from afar as the symbols of peace.

The “dove of peace” and the “olive branch” are made up of various geometrical segments. The free forms of the two self-supporting shell structures place great demands on the structural engineering because they cannot be analysed linearly. The multiple-cranked steel sections for the transverse beams were welded together beforehand and bolted to the intermediate beams via end plates during construction. Aluminium glazing bars on top, concealed Sefix retainers and a continuous silicone joint form an aesthetically sophisticated roof glazing solution. White membranes spanning across aluminium frames suspended below the roof glazing filter the incoming daylight and scatter it evenly across the interior below. During the day, the roof surfaces appear white, at night they radiate like luminous objects.

  • seele is also responsible for four glazed curtain wall façades. These have to satisfy a high blast-proof specification and many details show the refinement of the technical design. The transverse rails in the two large façades are connected to the building at the sides by tension springs, which reduces the tensile forces transferred to the façades in the case of deformations. The post-and-rail sections can therefore be smaller.

    The roof overhang on the north side could not be carried on the façade because the latter is directly above the entrance to the underground car park, supported on a long-span reinforced concrete beam. Additional loads would have overstressed the beam. Therefore, there is a sliding joint between the inward-curving free spanning façade and the roof construction, so that no loads are transferred from the roof to the façade.

    Images: © Timothy Hursley


Client United States Institute of Peace
Architect Safdie Associates
Engineer Buro Happold
Date of completion 2010
Scope of seele supply

glass roof & curtain wall façades

  • approx. 1,157sqm south roof
  • approx. 704sqm north roof
  • approx. 582sqm south wall
  • approx. 261sqm west wall
  • approx. 74sqm CW3 + CW4 (entry pavilion)
  • approx. 300sqm clerestories