Spending $50 million to redesign just one room might sound like overkill, but when it’s the highly specialized Situation Room at the White House, intel experts say the upgrades are well worth the cost.
What is it, exactly?
You might have heard of the Situation Room in news stories or seen pictures of presidents surrounded by very serious-looking individuals as they plot major operations like the 2011 raid that led to Osama bin Laden’s death.
But this location is probably far more high-tech and secure than you thought.
For starters, it consists of several connected conference rooms and offices in the West Wing. The entire complex occupies about 5,500 square feet.
It’s usually so classified that only authorized personnel are even allowed to take a look, but a select group of reporters were given access following the recent renovations.
So what’s different?
In short, almost everything in the Situation Room was updated and modernized. It took about a year to complete the extensive update, and director Marc Gustafson said that President Joe Biden was pleased with the result when he saw it for the first time earlier this week.
“He loved it,” Gustafson recalled. “He thought the update was fantastic.”
From mahogany panels to state-of-the-art LED lighting, the space still retains a bit of the old while offering thoroughly modernized functionality.
There’s one feature that carries on from previous versions, though. Landline phones are everywhere since cellphones aren’t allowed inside.
The Situation Room, which was first commissioned in 1961 by President Kennedy following the Bay of Pigs invasion, was last updated in 2007. Before that, the 9/11 attacks prompted renovations and increased security features.
This renovation was completed with the future in mind, though, and Gustafson said that new tech can be updated without requiring another complete overhaul.