George Bush Center for Intelligence

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George Bush Center for Intelligence
Aerial view of CIA headquarters, Langley, Virginia 14762v.jpg
Langley is located in Virginia
Langley is located in the United States
General information
LocationLangley, Virginia
Coordinates38°57′06″N 77°08′48″W / 38.9517°N 77.1467°W / 38.9517; -77.1467
OpenedNovember 3, 1959 – March 1961
HeightSix stories above ground
Technical details
Floor area2,500,000 sq ft (230,000 m2)[1]

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) that 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 had later served as the 41st President of the United States.[5]


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 Eisenhower laying the cornerstone,[6] and the building was completed in March 1961.[2][7] 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.[8]

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][6] 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 US government's policy in the Middle East, "particularly toward the Palestinian people".[9]

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.[10] However, due to a need for secrecy, the complex may only be accessed by those with authorization (e.g., appropriate credentials) or by appointment; only authorized vehicles may access the private road leading to the complex from George Washington Memorial Parkway.[11]

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,[6] such as the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center.[10] 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.[12][13]

The CIA Museum (also known as the National History Collection or National Intelligence Council (NIC) Collection) is located within the Center.[11] The museum holds declassified items such as artifacts associated with the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services and foreign intelligence organizations,[14] including historical spy gadgets and weapons, and photographs.[11][15] As it is located within the CIA compound, it is not accessible by the general public.[16] An Enigma machine and Osama bin Laden's AKMS are held in the museum.[15]

There is a Starbucks located on the site of the CIA headquarters. It is notably secretive and the baristas are not allowed to ask for customers' names.[17]

Kryptos is an infamous encrypted sculpture that sits on the grounds of the CIA's headquarters.[18]

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.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The CIA Headquarters Buildings". Federation of American Scientists.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Headquarters Virtual Tour". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  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.
  6. ^ a b c "Three Things About the CIA's Langley Headquarters". Ghosts of DC. October 2, 2013.
  7. ^ "New home for intelligence unit". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press (photo). March 9, 1961. p. 7.
  8. ^ "The CIA Museum ... Artifacts: Pneumatic-Tube Carrier". Central Intelligence Agency.
  9. ^ "Pakistani man executed for CIA killings". CNN. November 15, 2002.
  10. ^ a b "Maps and Directions to the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center". U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration.
  11. ^ a b c Hamilton, John (2007). The CIA: Defending the Nation, ABDO.
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ Mowbray, Joel (2003). Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security, Regnery Publishing, p. 11. ISBN 978-0-89526-110-6
  14. ^ "CIA Museum — About CIA". Central Intelligence Agency.
  15. ^ a b Martin, Eric; Grundhauser, Dylan; Richter, Darmon. "CIA Museum". Atlas Obscura.
  16. ^ "CIA Museum — Library". Central Intelligence Agency.
  17. ^ Wax-Thibodeaux, Emily. "At CIA Starbucks, even the baristas are covert." Washington Post. September 27, 2014. Retrieved on September 29, 2014.
  18. ^ Zetter, Kim (November 20, 2014). "Finally, a New Clue to Solve the CIA's Mysterious Kryptos Sculpture". Wired.
  19. ^ "The CIA Campus: A Walk Outside Headquarters — Central Intelligence Agency". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved October 11, 2016.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°57′06″N 77°08′48″W / 38.9517°N 77.1467°W / 38.9517; -77.1467