President Lincoln's Cottage

This photo shows the Visitor Education Center atrium, including the laylight and exhibits.


  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Building type(s): Interpretive Center
  • Renovation of a historic 1905 building
  • 7,060 ft2 (656 m2)
  • Project scope: 3-story building
  • Urban setting
  • Completed February 2008
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC, v.2.2--Level: Gold (44 points)

The Lincoln Cottage Visitor Education Center occupies a building constructed in 1905. The Beaux-Arts building, which previously served administrative functions for the Armed Forces Retirement Home located on site, is a short distance from the Lincoln Cottage, where the Lincoln family resided seasonally between 1862 and 1864.

After President Clinton declared the Lincoln Cottage a National Monument in 2000, the National Trust for Historic Preservation initiated a restoration of the Cottage and an adaptive reuse of the administrative building, turning it into the Lincoln Cottage Visitor Education Center. Both buildings are managed by the National Trust in cooperation with the Armed Forces Retirement Home.

Environmental Aspects

Since it is located in an existing building, the Visitor Education Center dramatically reduced the need for producing and shipping new materials. The design reused 98% of the existing walls, roof, and floors. In selecting new materials, the project team preferred products with recycled content and those that were manufactured regionally. Extensive recycling diverted 70% of construction debris from the landfill.

Located in an urban area, the project allows for the use of existing public transportation and parking facilities. Showers and bike racks encourage employees to walk, jog, or bicycle to work. The project team designed the landscaping to be historically appropriate without requiring potable water for irrigation. Low-flow plumbing fixtures, including dual-flush toilets, reduce the project's water consumption by 44%.

The project reduces the need for electric lighting through daylighting, occupancy sensors, dimming switches, and task lighting. Other energy-efficient features include energy-recovery ventilation and a building management system that adjusts the mechanical systems based on occupancy and climatic conditions.

The project team worked to provide a comfortable and healthy indoor environment. Large windows provide daylighting to 75% of occupied spaces and views of the outdoors to 92% of occupants. Low-emitting sealants, paints, carpets, and furniture protect indoor air quality.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by National Trust for Historic Preservation, Corporation, nonprofit
  • Typically occupied by 6 people, 50 hours per person per week

Building Programs

Indoor Spaces:

Public assembly (42%), Office (20%), Lobby/reception (15%), Classroom (10%), Restrooms (5%), Mechanical systems (3%), Retail general (3%), Electrical systems (2%)


Integrated team, Design charrette, Green framework, Green specifications, Contracting, Commissioning, Transportation benefits, Stormwater management, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Drought-tolerant landscaping, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, Durability, Salvaged materials, Recycled materials, Local materials, C&D waste management, Daylighting, Ventilation effectiveness, Moisture control, Thermal comfort, Low-emitting materials, Indoor air quality monitoring

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Last updated: 4/3/2009

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