Representing the AIA Springfield Chapter At Grassroots in Washington DC – Part II

by Gerri Kielhofner, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Our next scheduled visit with Senator McCaskill wasn’t until 2:30 pm, so we decided to visit the Holocaust Museum. It had taken us quite awhile to walk there, so we had an early lunch at their cafe. In the museum, we didn’t take any guided tours but just wandered through the different sections and admired the architecture of the museum itself. There were some really cool details of steel, concrete and glass interconnected in ways I had never seen before. The museum content itself was obviously very sad. Brandon and I had to go to our next visit, but Brad ended up saying and spending a lot more time exploring. He said the permanent display had some recorded interviews about their experiences that made him cry.

Brandon and I were running late and ended up taking a taxi to the Hart Senate Office Building. The mountain and clouds sculpture in the center atrium is really cool. Senator McCaskill was not available to meet with us; however, her staff person Clark spent a long time with us discussing our blueprint and issues. Several other architects from Missouri were able to go with us for this meeting and I think that always makes a better impact on the congressperson.

One always hears that the staff members are the better audience to voice your concerns because the representatives and senators have so much to deal with. I can only guess that the staff listen to several different lobbyists and then give their bosses a condensed version of everything that was said, saving the reps and senators time. I’m ok with that as long as the message does reach them!

By this time, Brandon and I were really tired from having walked around most of the day. We headed back to the hotel to rest and get ready for our visit to the AIA Institute office building, located in the Octogon. Before we left though, we got the word that our airline flights were being delayed due to the threat of 30 inches of snow coming through the next day through Saturday. We couldn’t believe it. It hadn’t even started snowing yet!

Brad and I went out to eat at a restaurant we always try to go to when we’re in DC – Old Ebbet Grille. It’s located close to the US Treasury on 15th Street (our hotel was on 11th Street). It’s been very cold every time we visit DC, but we enjoy walking as much as possible. We then walked to the AIA Institute, several more blocks away. I met the AIA legal representative that I had spoken to over the phone concerning a couple of issues for our chapter. It’s always nice to put a face to a name. We decided to ride the bus back to the hotel.