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 Home > News & Policies > July 2007

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 11, 2007

Fact Sheet: The 2007 Renovation of the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

     Fact sheet President Bush Unveils Renovated Press Briefing Room

Today, President George W. Bush Cut The Ribbon To Reopen The Renovated James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.  The 2007 renovation marks the 37th year of press operations in the West Wing Terrace area.  Driven by the need to replace aging utility infrastructure, renovations began in August 2006, at which time the press relocated to temporary space in the White House Conference Center on Jackson Place.  In 2004, the Administration also renovated the North Lawn press media broadcast area.

History Of The White House Press Briefing Room

In 1970, The Press Began Using The "West Terrace Press Center," Which Primarily Served As A Lounge, Briefing Area, And Work Space – With 40 Cubicles And 12 Sound Booths.  In 1933, much of the West Terrace was converted into an indoor swimming pool for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  President Richard Nixon reportedly considered the pool to be underutilized and commissioned the space for use as a press area.  Before 1933, the area had been subdivided into spaces used at times as an ice house, laundry, and servants' quarters. 

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan Converted The Press Lounge Into A True Briefing Room With A Low Stage On The West End And Fixed Seats.

In 2000, President Bill Clinton Named The Briefing Room The "James S. Brady Press Briefing Room" In Honor Of The Press Secretary Badly Wounded In The 1981 Assassination Attempt On President Reagan.

Scope Of The Renovation

New Interactive Media Backdrops: Interactive media will be displayed on two 45 inch screens in the podium backdrop.  There are two distinct backdrop sets – one for the President and one for the Press Secretary.  Press will receive a feed of the backdrop content under the Press Secretary set up. 

Improved Press Work Space:  Press work space now benefits from increased and neater storage and new work stations. Press seats are wider and taller, and there are now 49 press seats on the main floor – up from 48 before the renovation – plus five new seats for White House staff. 

Safer, More Convenient Wiring: Floor-mounted cable connection ports have been added to increase convenience for reporters and significantly reduce stray, unsafe wiring.  In addition, the swimming pool space below the briefing room floor is now used for electronics, allowing wiring to support telecommunications and broadcast television for the first time in the pool area.  Circuitry has also been rearranged for optimal isolation and load balancing.

Better Sound Balance: New loudspeakers and pick-up microphones over the press seats balance the sound and eliminate the need for a boom microphone.

Cooler, More Energy-Efficient Lighting: Traditional incandescent lights have been replaced with nearly 50 low-energy, low heat light-emitting-diodes for cooler and more energy-efficient TV lighting. 

New, Front-Facing TV Production Work Stations: New TV production work stations at the rear camera deck create a protected, neat area in which technicians can operate and easily face the front of the room.  The previous setup made it difficult for technicians to face the front of the room.

New Support For Cut Cameras: The new knee wall provides set connection points and robotics support for cut cameras, which provide side-angle shots of the podium.

Convenient, Safer Entry To The Swimming Pool Space: A new staircase allows safe access to the swimming pool space below the floor without disrupting a press event, in contrast to the hatch and ship's ladder by which the area was accessed before renovation.

Additional Cooling Capacity: The new design provides 45 additional tons of cooling capacity for 64 tons overall, including redundant equipment. The equipment has been located for less disruptive maintenance access and has an expected life of 20 years. The pool alone has 16 tons of capacity.

Improved Heating: Electric re-heat has enhanced the ability to control humidity and eliminated the potential for steam leaks onto electronics in the room.

Additional Data

Concrete: The floor of the briefing room is now supported by steel and concrete, as opposed to the wood deck in place before renovation.  Twenty-eight cubic yards (3 trucks) of concrete were poured for the pool slab and camera risers.

Flooring: 300 square yards of rubber-backed carpet tiles were selected for durability, ease of cleaning, and replacement.

Seating: Within the armrests, the 19-inch press seats are now 1 inch wider than before the renovation. There are now seven seats per row versus the prior six seats, and on average, the press is closer to the first row.  This was achieved with the elimination of the flip-up writing surface and a reduction in width of around 6 inches in each side aisle. 

Higher Ceilings: At its highest point, the new acoustic ceiling is 15 inches higher than pre-renovation clearances.  The lowest point of the cross-beams is 8 feet, 7 inches above the floor, which is nearly 8 inches higher than before the renovation.  Sixteen structural beams were relocated to make room for HVAC ductwork.  This relocation also accommodated the design for new and distinctive groined ceiling vaults.

Historic: To attach structural beams, only a dozen wall tiles were removed (and salvaged) from the swimming pool. Otherwise, the swimming pool has been preserved (50' x 15' x 8' deep).

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