Fairfax County Government Center

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Fairfax County Government Center
The Government Center during a Celebrate Fairfax! festival.
General information
Type Government building
Address 12000 Government Center Parkway
Town or city County of Fairfax
Country  United States of America
Coordinates 38°51′15″N 77°21′25″W / 38.85404°N 77.35706°W / 38.85404; -77.35706Coordinates: 38°51′15″N 77°21′25″W / 38.85404°N 77.35706°W / 38.85404; -77.35706
Design and construction
Architect Randal Gaskins[1]
Architecture firm RTKL Associates[1]

The Fairfax County Government Center is the headquarters for the Fairfax County, Virginia local government. Located west of the City of Fairfax in an unincorporated area of the County, it is the meeting place of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, as well as housing the offices of the Fairfax County Executive and his deputies.[2]

History and development[edit]

In 1969, the Fairfax County Government moved its offices into the newly constructed 12-story County Governmental Center on the county's exclave in the City of Fairfax. Designed by the architectural firm of Vosbeck, Vosbeck, Kendrick and Redinger and built by Blake Construction, the building was renamed the Massey Building in March 1971 to honor the county's first county executive, Carlton C. Massey.[3][4][5][6]

Within a decade, however, it became apparent that the Massey Building was no longer sufficient as a governmental center, and in 1977 the county appointed a citizens' committee to consider moving the county's centralized activities out of the City of Fairfax.[7][8] In October 1978, the committee recommended a site west of Fairfax, and in 1979, the county purchased 183 acres of the site, called the Smith-Carney site, for $4.1 million.[8][9]

Another committee reported on county agency space needs in 1980, and in 1982 a design team and concept were selected.[8] At this point, development stalled, because the Board of Supervisors did not want put a bond issue to pay for the new government center to a voter referendum, preferring to reserve the county's bond financing capacity for other needs.[8]

In 1985, the Board of Supervisors initiated a scheme whereby they could have their new government center free or on the cheap as part of a joint public-private partnership.[8] The land which the county had purchased in 1979 for $4.1 million had ballooned in value to $42 million, and the county proposed swapping some of this valuable land in exchange for construction of the new government center.[8][10]

After years of negotiation, the county in 1987 entered into an agreement with a joint partnership of the Charles E. Smith Company and the Artery Organization whereby the county gave Smith/Artery 50 acres of land for residential development, conveyed for 75 years 67 acres of land for commercial development, and paid Smith/Artery $27.3 million.[8][11][12]

The agreement with Smith/Artery was not without controversy, with accusations that Smith/Artery had obtained a lucrative deal with the county and that the county was giving away too much in the deal.[13]

Even before the sprawling complex was completed, it had been dubbed the "Taj Mahal" by its critics and opponents.[14][15] The name was applied due to the intent to install features that were perceived as luxuries, including a $400,000 12-story steel obelisk (later cancelled), a custom-built granite conference table, Brazilian mahogany paneling, and private elevators for the members of the Board of Supervisors during a time of constrained budgets due to the recession of the late 1980s and early 1990s.[1][16]

Current uses[edit]

Naturalization ceremonies are also held at the center,[17] as well as flu shot distribution and many other bureaucratic institutions.[18]


  1. ^ a b c Heath, Thomas (19 June 1991). "'This Was a Product of the '80s'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  2. ^ "Facilities & Locations." Fairfax County. Retrieved on April 4, 2009.
  3. ^ "For Fairfax County". The Washington Post. 1 July 1967. Retrieved 31 August 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ "Exhibits Selected for Architectural Display". The Washington Post. 24 October 1970. Retrieved 31 August 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ "Honor to Massey". The Washington Post. 11 March 1971. Retrieved 31 August 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  6. ^ Pearson, Richard (31 March 1981). "Carlton C. Massey Dies; Executive Guided Fairfax County Expansion". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ Grubisich, Thomas (7 December 1977). "Reston Offers Fairfax County Site for Offices: Reston Offers Site for Fairfax County Government Offices". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Kramer, Fred K. (1990). A Successful Public-Private Venture at the Local Government Level (Technical report). Washington, DC: National Academy Press. pp. 85–97 – via Google Books. 
  9. ^ "Committee Suggests Fairfax Purchase Site for Offices". The Washington Post. 14 October 1978. Retrieved 31 August 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  10. ^ Anderson, John Ward (30 June 1987). "Fairfax Government Center May Grow: Pact With Developer Would Cut Use of Tax-Generated Funds". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 September 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  11. ^ Hockstader, Lee (4 August 1987). "Fairfax Board Approves Deal for Government Center: Fairfax Board Accepts Deal for New Center". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 September 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ Anderson, John Ward (24 May 1990). "A Foundation of Controversy; Land Swap With Developer Paved Way for Nearly Completed $98.6 Million Fairfax Government Complex". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 September 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  13. ^ Anderson, John Ward (27 July 1987). "Government Center: A Fairfax Frustration: Board Accused of Making 'Sweetheart Deal'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 September 2015 – via Proquest. (subscription required (help)). 
  14. ^ Thomas, Evan (30 June 1991). "Where Did All The Money Go?". Newseek. Retrieved 28 August 2015. 
  15. ^ Gardner, Amy (March 11, 2008). "Supervisors Weigh Naming Government Center After Davis". Washington Post. Retrieved July 4, 2010. 
  16. ^ Richardson, Linda (15 August 1988). "Plan for Obelisk, At Fairfax Center, Falls Out of Favor". The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  17. ^ "Naturalization Ceremony to be Held at the Government Center". Fairfax County. May 22, 2009. Retrieved April 18, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Fairfax County Website". Fairfax County. Retrieved April 18, 2010. 

External links[edit]