Grand Opening Welcomes Legal Community to D.C. Bar’s New Home

By Tracy Schorn

April 26, 2018

Photo Credit: Patrice Gilbert Photography
On April 12, D.C. Bar President-Elect Esther H. Lim, D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, D.C. Bar CEO Bob Spagnoletti, Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, and D.C. Bar President Patrick McGlone led the ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of the Bar’s new headquarters.

Two years after breaking ground, the new D.C. Bar headquarters had its coming out party Thursday, April 12, in a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by past and present Bar leaders, D.C. officials, members of the judiciary, and other invited guests.

“We are thrilled to be in our new home on time and on budget,” said D.C. Bar Chief Executive Officer Robert J. Spagnoletti. “An achievement this significant isn’t possible without the support of the larger D.C. Bar community, our leaders, our supporters, our partners, our members, and our staff.”

Spagnoletti praised the “vision and skill” of the D.C. Bar Board of Governors in creating a permanent home for the Bar, touching on the organization’s journey from renter to owner.

“Since the D.C. Bar was founded in 1972, we have rented space, moving our offices every several years. Today, the Bar and its nearly 107,000 members have a permanent home here in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood of Ward 6,” Spagnoletti said. “This building represents a new era for the Bar . . . Our goal was to create an all-in-one space for D.C. Bar members, partners, and stakeholders that addresses their professional needs, provides a wide range of services, and fosters community.”

The evening kicked off with opening remarks from D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby congratulating the “impressive” growth of the Bar, now “the largest unified Bar association in the country.”

The new building befits this new era for the Bar, said Blackburne-Rigsby. “This space facilitates openness, fairness, and access to justice.”

Also present at the celebration were D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Superior Court Chief Judge Robert E. Morin, Attorney General Karl A. Racine, and D.C. Bar President-elect Esther H. Lim.

After the ribbon cutting and opening remarks, the party adjourned upstairs to the Chesapeake conference center for another round of speeches, followed by dining, tours, and music by the DuPont Brass band.

Spagnoletti gave special thanks to Katherine A. Mazzaferri, who served as the Bar’s CEO for 35 years until her retirement last year, for her “wisdom and courage to move forward on building the D.C. Bar a permanent new home.”

Spagnoletti also acknowledged the contributions of Victor Velazquez, the Bar’s former chief operating officer. “Victor shepherded this project into existence and, even after he was elevated to the position of CEO of the Maryland State Bar Association, [he] acted as the D.C. Bar’s representative on all construction issues,” Spagnoletti said.

D.C. Bar President Patrick McGlone thanked the past presidents of the Bar, many of whom were in attendance, “whose foresight helped to create the [Bar’s] incredible programs and services.”

McGlone also praised the Building Advisory Task Force for being the “eyes and ears” of the Bar in the building process, Quadrangle Development Corporation, The Wilkes Company, and Alliance Architecture, and gave special acknowledgment to the financial support of SunTrust Bank. All the stakeholders had a vision for revitalizing this corner of Mount Vernon Triangle, McGlone said.

Introducing Mayor Bowser, McGlone lauded her dedication to the District. “As a councilmember and now mayor, Mayor Bowser has made it a priority to encourage the development of unused property and the revitalization of neighborhoods throughout the District,” said McGlone.

In her speech, Bowser thanked the D.C. Bar for its investment in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood. “I’m so happy to be here for the realization of that vision,” the mayor said, closing her remarks with appreciation for the legal community itself and its continued support for access to justice for District residents.

“Lawyers protect and preserve our values,” said Bowser. “They speak up and stand up for the rule of law. Thank you."