SOM will design the new production facility for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Where the Moolah is Made

SOM will design the new production facility for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing

The current Washington, D.C. home of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving pictured in 2009. (Kim/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has announced that it has been chosen to design, master plan, and engineer a new currency production facility operated by the United States Department of Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). With the formal announcement, the firm will now join a joint venture, the Capital Currency Team (CCT), that also includes industrial engineer Ghafari Associates and MEP engineer Huitt-Zollars and is administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District.

Described in a press announcement “as modern, more efficient, and highly sustainable,” the new production hub, to be located in the National Capital Region, will replace an existing, aging Washington, D.C. production facility in the BEP’s neoclassical Main Building and Annex Building, which date back to 1914 and 1938, respectively. Once completed, the new D.C.-area plant will join the BEP’s Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth, Texas, as one of two literal money-making factories for the federal government. Production kicked off at the Fort Worth location in 1990 and it was officially dedicated the following year.

“This building has to be a sustainable, secure, and highly digitized production facility that relies on smart manufacturing, all while adapting to the BEP’s East Coast currency production requirements over the next century,” said SOM Design Partner Chris Cooper in a statement. “This project will be about thinking critically to balance numerous important, and sometimes competing, needs.”

As detailed by SOM, the BEP, founded in 1862, is the largest producer of government security documents in the U.S. and prints military commissions and award certificates, event invitations and admission cards, forms, and other government-issued documents in addition to Federal Reserve Notes (aka paper currency). From 1894 through 2004, the bureau was also responsible for the printing of U.S. postage stamps. All U.S. coinage is produced by a separate bureau within the Treasury, the United States Mint, which operates for coin-producing mints in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Denver, and at West Point, New York.

While the Fort Worth production facility was pivotal in helping the BEP meet increased production needs when it went online 30 years ago, its older eastern counterpart has long been in need of an updated, state-of-the-art home. As SOM points out, the Washington, D.C. facility is spread across multiple floors, an inefficient approach that essentially segregates different elements of the production process. The new facility will streamline the process and “support the BEP’s vital economic role for the next century.”

Per SOM:

“The new building will consolidate many program functions, including administrative support and banknote manufacturing, onto a single floor to enable a seamless and more cost-effective operation. It will be equipped with the next generation of secure banknote production technologies, and with up to one million square feet of space, it will be future-proofed to accommodate the changing needs of currency production over time. Additionally, the facility will be designed in accordance with federal security standards.”

Site selection is currently pending an environmental impact review with construction expected to kick-off in 2022. It’s anticipated that the new facility will be up and printing in 2025.