Report: Obama leaving the Oval Office, for another
February 1st, 2013
04:32 PM ET
2 years ago

Report: Obama leaving the Oval Office, for another

(CNN) - One of the most iconic symbols of the presidency will soon have a twin.

Real Clear Politics reported Friday that President Barack Obama will vacate the Oval Office for a major West Wing renovation project but will take up a desk in a "nearly identical replica."

The Oval Office replica was expected to be in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is inside the White House compound and just across West Executive Drive from the West Wing. But the report also noted "unforseen construction hurdles" may alter the current plans.

The office as it is known today was built under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934, though it was initially constructed in 1909 and rebuilt after a fire 20 years later.

Presidential historian Martha Joynt Kumar - a political science professor at Towson University and director of the non-partisan White House Transition Project - said the West Wing has been renovated in a "patchwork" way over the decades but major and necessary "electrical work … restructuring of office space … [and other] structural work" would not be feasible while the Oval and surrounding offices are in use.

"If you're doing major work then people will have to be moved," she told CNN on Friday.

The Oval is the president's functional as well as ceremonial office - where major decisions are made, foreign leaders are met, and presidents address the nation. It stands alongside Air Force One and the White House façade itself as powerful symbols of the presidency.

"The Oval Office has long been associated with the president," Kumar said. Theodore Roosevelt vacated the West Wing for renovations but was asked by guests to return "to the White House itself for meetings because people didn't want to meet in some temporary office building," she said.

When Obama took office, his he customized the office with new beige wallpaper, carpet, chairs, couches, and by removing a set of decorative plates. He's not "a plates kind of guy," Kumar said.

The Real Clear Politics report said the temporary Oval Office would be "replicated in shape and Obama beige-ness, is being readied for occupancy within months." It quoted an unnamed source as saying the administration would have "eight to 10 months to get ready" for the move.

"It's going to be important to have a major symbol of the presidency," she said. With a replica, Obama would be able to "put the Oval in your pocket and carry it across the street."

– CNN's Gregory Wallace contributed to this report


Filed under: President Obama • White House
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "White House Transition Project – said the West Wing has been renovated in a "patchwork" way over the decades but major and necessary "electrical work … restructuring of office space … [and other] structural work" would not be feasible while the Oval and surrounding offices are in use. "

    Let's focus that a little bit: "major and necessary"

    One more time: "necessary"

    It's too bad facts don't come in an "armor piercing" variety, so we can get them past the GOPers/Teatrolls' armor of wilfull ignorance. But that's ok, I suppose...commence your circus of vitriol, Teatrolls...tell us how much this angers you that he's "wasting money" just to renovate the WH to "his liking" or "because he plans on staying for much longer than just this term" or some such other insipid mental vomit.

    February 1, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. FUBAR

    Makes sense, ersatz office for a ersatz president.

    February 1, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  3. jag

    Interesting the almost side-by-side images of Obama and the bust of Lincoln.

    February 1, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  4. Loch

    Pave it in gold for the Imperial President.

    February 1, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. Borderless

    Ok, I recognize that Obama sheep will write this off as "necessary" because Obama insists it is so. Such is there weak grasp on reality. But we all know that if a Republican was in office, the fools who worship Obama, some of which are serial posters on this site, would be howling and whining and complaining that this is a bad time to redecorate. By the way, Obama spends more time on golf courses and at Hollywood parties than in the Oval Office. So, Obama sheep, stop SNIFFIng glue and start holding your leader accountable.

    February 1, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  6. Moose

    More wasted time and funds, work on the economy jerk

    February 1, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. Loch

    jag

    Interesting the almost side-by-side images of Obama and the bust of Lincoln.
    ___________
    Empty suit. He is no Lincoln.

    February 1, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  8. Wes

    Sound asleep in a chair. Another typical work day for the uhbama.

    February 1, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  9. 1608®

    The house needs major work after all these years. I know at your house you use
    glue and bandages.

    February 1, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  10. hal

    Why do you need to have another office? If he revamped the original "Oval" office...why do you need another one?!

    February 1, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  11. Jen

    Fixing electrical problems is generally considered necessary, it's sad that there are people out there who would consider this a waste of money. Would they prefer the whole building to go up in fire if the faulty electrics weren't fixed? Think of the cost of rebuilding...

    February 2, 2013 03:35 am at 3:35 am |