Sen. Patrick Leahy calls out the ugliest buildings in Washington

May 14, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 22: Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on April 22, 2013 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony on border security, economic opportunities and the Immigration Modernization Act. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Sen. Patrick Leahy during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last month. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Patrick Leahy: U.S. senator, movie buff and now architecture critic. “Welcome,” said the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to “what is probably the ugliest room in the whole United States Senate.”

That would be SDG-50, better known as the Dirksen Auditorium, where Tuesday’s markup on immigration reform was about to begin. While waiting for his fellow senators to arrive, Leahy weighed in on the 1950′s structure. “I think when the Dirksen Building was designed, it was somebody who must have worked for Mussolini or Stalin” — and, he speculated, it must have been a junior staffer “because because they got it even worse than the designs we see overseas.”

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 3: The J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington, DC on Dec. 3. The FBI may move to another building. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)
The FBI Building in Washington, DC. That ugly? (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

“But,” he announced cheerfully, Dirksen is saved from being the ugliest building in Washington by the very worst: The FBI building, which “hands down retires the prize as the ugliest.”

Hey, don’t hold back, senator! We asked Leahy to elaborate.

“The Dirksen Building looks like it was built by a committee of senators, which it was,” he told us. “The FBI structure is essentially a fortress and has always been out of place on America’s Main Street. I know ugly when I see it.”

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Amy Argetsinger · May 14, 2013