George Bush Center for Intelligence

Coordinates: 38°57′6.12″N 77°8′48.12″W / 38.9517000°N 77.1467000°W / 38.9517000; -77.1467000
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George Bush Center for Intelligence
An aerial view of the George Bush Center for Intelligence
General information
Address1000 Colonial Farm Road, Langley, Fairfax County, Virginia
CountryUnited States
Coordinates38°57′6.12″N 77°8′48.12″W / 38.9517000°N 77.1467000°W / 38.9517000; -77.1467000
Current tenantsCentral Intelligence Agency
Named forGeorge H. W. Bush
Construction startedOctober 1957
OpenedSeptember 1961; 62 years ago (1961-09) (Original HQ Building)
InauguratedNovember 28, 1961
RenovatedMay 1984 – March 1991 (New HQ Building)
Cost$46 million
Technical details
Floor countSix (New Headquarters Building); Seven (Original Headquarters Building)
Floor area2,500,000 sq ft (230,000 m2)[1]
Grounds258 acres (104 hectares)
Design and construction
Architecture firmHarrison & Abramovitz
Renovating team
Architect(s)Smith, Hinchman and Grylls Associates

The George Bush Center for Intelligence is the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency, located in the unincorporated community of Langley in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, near Washington, D.C.

The headquarters is a conglomeration of the Original Headquarters Building (OHB) and the New Headquarters Building (NHB) and sits on a total of 258 acres (1.04 km2) of land.[2] It was the world's largest intelligence headquarters from 1959 until 2019, when it was surpassed by Germany's BND headquarters.


Before its current name, the CIA headquarters was formally unnamed.[3] On April 26, 1999,[4] the complex was officially named in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999 for George H. W. Bush,[2] who had served as the director of central intelligence for 357 days (between January 30, 1976, and January 20, 1977) and later as the forty-first president of the United States.[5]

Colloquially, it is known by the metonym Langley.[6] "The Farm" is not a reference to the center despite its address, but to the CIA training facility at Camp Peary.[7]


The Original Headquarters Building was designed by the New York firm Harrison & Abramovitz in the 1950s and contains 1,400,000 square feet (130,000 m2) of floor space.[2] The ground was broken for construction on November 3, 1959, with President Dwight D. Eisenhower laying the cornerstone;[8] the building was completed in March 1961.[2][9] It included a pneumatic tube system manufactured by Lamson Corporation of Syracuse, New York. Though the system was replaced by email and shut down in 1989, the thirty miles (50 km) of steel tubes remain in the building.[10]

The New Headquarters Building, designed by Smith, Hinchman and Grylls Associates, was completed in March 1991 after the ground was broken for construction on May 24, 1984.[2][8] It is a complex that adjoins two six-story office towers and is fully connected via a tunnel to the OHB.[2]

On January 25, 1993, Mir Qazi, a Pakistani resident of the United States, killed two CIA employees and wounded three others on the road to the CIA headquarters, claiming that it was revenge for the U.S. government's policy in the Middle East, "particularly toward the Palestinian people".[11] Qazi was sentenced to death for the shooting and executed in 2002.

In May 2021, an armed man tried to drive into the center and was shot following a standoff that lasted several hours. He died the following day.[12]

Location and facilities[edit]

The Center is located at 1000 Colonial Farm Road in McLean, Virginia, and can be reached via George Washington Memorial Parkway.[13] However, due to a need for secrecy, the complex may only be accessed by those with authorization (appropriate credentials) or by appointment; only authorized vehicles may access the private road leading to the complex from George Washington Memorial Parkway.[14]

The Original Headquarters Building which was designed in the mid-1950s following the vision of former director of central intelligence Allen Dulles, who dreamed of a place where intelligence officers could work in a college campus-like atmosphere.

A notable exception to the strict protocols for accessing The Center was Russell Weston Jr.'s visit in July 1996. Weston, a paranoid schizophrenic man from Montana, drove cross country from his home to The Center, where at the gate he claimed his code-name was "The Moon" and that he had important information for the director of central intelligence (at the time, John M. Deutch).[15] Weston was then allowed access to the facility, where he was interviewed for approximately one hour by an anonymous CIA officer and then sent on his way. Two years later, Weston would become the perpetrator of the 1998 United States Capitol shooting, in which two Capitol police officers were murdered.

The location of the building has led to the name "Langley" being used as a colloquial metonym for the CIA headquarters, despite the presence of other non-CIA-related government buildings in the community of Langley,[8] such as the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center.[13] This is similar to how "Foggy Bottom" is colloquially used to identify the headquarters of the United States Department of State, despite the name also being used to refer to the neighborhood of D.C. in which the building is located.[16][17]

The CIA Museum (also known as the National History Collection or National Intelligence Council (NIC) Collection) is located within the Center.[14] The museum holds declassified items such as artifacts associated with the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services and foreign intelligence organizations,[18] including historical spy gadgets and weapons, and photographs.[14][19] As it is located within the CIA compound, it is not accessible by the general public.[20] An Enigma machine and Osama bin Laden's AKMS are held in the museum.[19]

There is a Starbucks coffee shop located on the site of the CIA headquarters. It is notably secretive and the baristas are not allowed to ask for customers' names.[21]

Kryptos is an infamous encrypted sculpture that sits on the grounds of the CIA's headquarters.[22]

In a nod to American covert intelligence-gathering activities from an earlier era, a statue of Nathan Hale, the captured colonial spy hanged by the British during the American Revolution, stands on the grounds of the CIA headquarters complex.[23] The CIA headquarters features a bronze statue of Harriet Tubman, whom it calls a model spy. "She exemplifies how we need a diverse cadre of officers to do our mission here at CIA," said a CIA employee on the CIA's podcast, The Langley Files.[24][25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The CIA Headquarters Buildings". Federation of American Scientists.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Explore CIA Headquarters". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved April 25, 2021.
  3. ^ "George H.W. Bush Center for Central Intelligence". House of Representatives: Congressional Record. August 3, 1998.
  4. ^ Courson, Paul (April 26, 1999). "Former President Bush honored at emotional ceremony renaming CIA headquarters". CNN.
  5. ^ "George Bush Centre for Intelligence". Central Intelligence Agency. April 5, 2007. Archived from the original on July 25, 2019. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  6. ^ Knight, Gladys L. (August 11, 2014). Pop Culture Places: An Encyclopedia of Places in American Popular Culture. Vol. 2. ABC-CLIO. p. 484. ISBN 978-0-313-39883-4.
  7. ^ Bowden, Mark (2004). "The Dark Art of Interrogation". Road Work: Among Tyrants, Heroes, Rogues, and Beasts. Atlantic Monthly Press. p. 103. ISBN 0-87113-876-X.
  8. ^ a b c "Three Things About the CIA's Langley Headquarters". Ghosts of DC. October 2, 2013.
  9. ^ "New home for intelligence unit". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press (photo). March 9, 1961. p. 7.
  10. ^ "The CIA Museum … Artifacts: Pneumatic-Tube Carrier — Central Intelligence Agency". October 26, 2009. Archived from the original on October 26, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2022.
  11. ^ "Pakistani man executed for CIA killings". CNN. November 15, 2002.
  12. ^ "Armed intruder who tried to drive into CIA headquarters shot after standoff". The Independent. May 4, 2021. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  13. ^ a b "Maps and Directions to the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center". U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration.
  14. ^ a b c Hamilton, John (2007). The CIA: Defending the Nation, ABDO.
  15. ^ "A Living Hell or a Life Saved?". January 23, 2001. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  16. ^ carmine, Alex (2009). Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol: The Ultimate Unauthorized and Independent Reading Guide, Punked Books, p. 37. ISBN 978-1-908375-01-8
  17. ^ Mowbray, Joel (2003). Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security, Regnery Publishing, p. 11. ISBN 978-0-89526-110-6
  18. ^ "CIA Museum — About CIA". Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on June 12, 2007.
  19. ^ a b Martin, Eric; Grundhauser, Dylan; Richter, Darmon. "CIA Museum". Atlas Obscura.
  20. ^ "CIA Museum — Library". Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on June 12, 2007.
  21. ^ Wax-Thibodeaux, Emily. "At CIA Starbucks, even the baristas are covert." Washington Post. September 27, 2014. Retrieved on September 29, 2014.
  22. ^ Zetter, Kim (November 20, 2014). "Finally, a New Clue to Solve the CIA's Mysterious Kryptos Sculpture". Wired.
  23. ^ "The CIA Campus: A Walk Outside Headquarters — Central Intelligence Agency". Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on July 14, 2009. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  24. ^ "Mentions". The Drift. Retrieved May 4, 2023.
  25. ^ "The CIA honors Harriet Tubman as a model spy with a new statue". NBC News. Retrieved May 4, 2023.

External links[edit]