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Construction of second Oval Office to begin shortly

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A second Oval Offices in the White House could be up and running by this August if Obama is ready to move and if numerous design challenges are resolved. It's part of the expansion of the new "West Wing quarters" inside the Eisenhower building.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The U.S. government is undertaking extensive work to complete a new executive office for President Obama at the south end of the adjacent Eisenhower Executive Office Building, RCP has learned.

Created as a nearly identical replica of the most famous ovoid room in the world, the office is slated to be ready for occupancy by August. It's all part of the West Wing phase of a larger, $376 million project begun in September 2010 that went on the back burner during last year's election. If Mitt Romney had won in November, Obama would have handed decisions about whether and how to proceed with the rehab project to his successor.

Since the Oval Office was added to the White House in 1909 under the Taft administration, decades of repairs, redecoration and technological add-ons have been layered atop an antique foundation.

President Herbert Hoover had to make significant repairs after an electrical fire in 1929. The office was relocated for a brief time across the street to the secretary of the Navy's office.

Obama's West Wing rehab addresses an overhaul of America's iconic seat of power. Obama won't be the first modern president to work in an executive suite nearby; he has described the Oval Office as a "surprisingly comfortable" place in which to get real work done. He lauds his 70-yard walk from home to office as one of the perks of his position.

In a somewhat more scandalous note -- President Nixon treated the Oval Office as a ceremonial suite, choosing to do most of his writing, thinking and phone-calling -- and some most notorious tape-recording in Room 180 of what was then called the Old Executive Office Building.

Nixon's office was located at the top of building's steps, closest to the West Wing. President Johnson, out of respect for his assassinated predecessor, John F. Kennedy, also used the Oval Office only as a formal setting with visitors and continued to do most of his work in his vice presidential suite located in Room 274 of the OEOB.

Workers are now building what will become a temporary blast-proof, secure VIP visitors' entrance to the granite EEOB behemoth, which already houses most of what is known as the Executive Office of the President. The new gate is intended to become an entryway for VIP guests, akin to the existing West Wing lobby, sources say.

Since the Oval Office is an internationally renowned symbol of American power, the precise timing of the relocation and West Wing interior demolition is somewhat up in the air. "We have eight to 10 months to get ready," one source said.

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