Analysis and Options

Organization of American States (OAS) is a case in point…

The Organization of American States is the world’s oldest multi-country cooperative organization, dating back to the First International Conference of American States, held in Washington, D.C. from October 1889 to April 1890. Today, the OAS brings together all 35 independent states of the Americas and constitutes the main political, juridical, and social governmental forum in the western hemisphere.

The Organization was established in order to achieve among its member states “an order of peace and justice, to promote their solidarity, to strengthen their collaboration, and to defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their independence.” The Organization uses a four-pronged approach to effectively implement its essential purposes, based on its main pillars: democracy, human rights, security, and development.

The need for a Master Plan became evident as the OAS prepared to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the dedication of its flagship structure, the historic and architectural icon, the Main Building, in April of 2010. Out of that master planning effort grew a vision, with goals and aspirations for the next 100 years. 

In 2017, the OAS sought to achieve that vision by focusing on the continuity of mission through the consolidation and efficiency of the organization’s infrastructure. To do that, OAS worked closely with Barry Eiswerth and Joanne Pizzo of L.R. Kimball and Joseph Fetterman of Colliers.

While the team had previous knowledge of the complexities of the proposed site of the new building — its parameters, legal issues and opportunities — from having done work to develop the 2010 Master Plan, it also understood the complexities of juggling several buildings with competing needs and priorities. Additionally, the team was familiar with the culture of the OAS, its governing body and its processes, with the District of Columbia real estate market, and with the complex web of District of Columbia governing bodies and agencies, and of current office culture theories and design. All of this knowledge and experience came together in what became the 2019 study.

The team thoroughly analyzed the worth of OAS’s real estate holdings, reviewed the condition of its facilities, developed methods of consolidating the Organization’s various offices, and studied the potential of building new, ultimately designing four scenarios (with subsets) that presented different methodologies for improving efficiency and return on investment.  The team’s recommendations included:

  • renovating and restacking office floors to achieve greater efficiency and flexibility by introducing current thinking office layouts
  • consolidation of employees, thereby gaining the ability to lease several floors to outside tenants, providing a new revenue source
  • outright sale of one or more properties, allowing the financing of a new building
  • conceptual design for a new office building that varied from 60,000 to 100,000 square feet and included an underground garage on the historic Main Building’s grounds near the Washington Monument

Currently, this team continues to provide OAS with further restacking and real estate advice as we move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Winston Churchill


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