East Meets West
East Room Replica Added to Nixon
Matt Construction has completed a $15 million addition
to the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda.
The new 47,300-sq.-ft. wing--called the Katherine B. Loker
Center--doubles the size of the original museum. In addition
to the new East Room replica, the enlarged museum includes
additional meeting rooms and more office and library space.
The East Room of the White House has moved to Orange County.
Well, a replica of it, at least.
The room is the centerpiece of a recently completed 47,300-sq.-ft.
addition to the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba
Linda. The $15 million wing-called the Katherine B. Loker
Center-doubled the size of the 9-acre presidential archive
and exhibit to 97,800 sq. ft.
The wing is named after Katherine B. Loker, a major museum
donor honoring the 37th U.S. president, who served from 1968-74
and died in 1994.
The 4,860-sq.-ft. flat-roofed East Room was the focal point
of the grand opening during the summer. One of the late president's
daughters, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, flew in from Pennsylvania
to help Loker with the ribbon cutting. Nixon's other daughter,
Tricia Nixon Cox, was unable to attend. Richard Nixon's widow,
Pat, died in 1993.
"It's more beautiful than I expected" Nixon Eisenhower
said. "It was fun to look out the window and see palm
trees." Nixon Eisenhower and her sister, Tricia Nixon
Cox, lived in the White House during their father's years
Tricia hosted her wedding reception in the room in 1971,
and it was where Julie first met her future husband, David
Eisenhower, during his grandfather's and her father's inauguration
ceremony in 1957. The East Room has been called "America's
grand ballroom" by some historians and authors.
Trent Anderson of Sante Fe Springs-based Matt Construction
served as project manager on the structure. "We completed
it on schedule to a high- quality level," he said.
Anderson said it took "attention to details to match
the stones and paint of the existing building."
The East Room replica sits at the end of a new 184-ft.-long
corridor designed by architect J. Patrick Allen of the Irvine
office of Langdon Wilson. Allen conferred with a curator from
the White House in Washington and said, "We were fortunate
to get detailed drawings."
The room includes reproductions of four Rosso Collemandina
marble fireplaces, three 70-light Bohemian crystal chandeliers
and the hanging portraits of William McKinley, George and
Martha Washington and Theodore Roosevelt. The molding along
the ceiling and friezes on the panels and ceiling depict the
Federalist style from the source.
The delicate, rose-colored marble is still quarried in Italy.
"We could pick and choose among the available pieces
for the fireplaces," Anderson said. "We chose those
with the same veining and richness as the originals.
Preciosa International Inc. in the Czech Republic manufactured
the chandeliers to match those hanging in the White House's
Joseph Soter, the facility manager for the Nixon Library
and Birthplace, said that the illumination in the library's
East Room is adjustable for energy conservation and is "better
than the White House's."
The room also contains two retractable projection screens
for presentations. Removable panels between its two west-side
fireplaces allow the new room to be combined with the adjacent
934-sq.-ft. meeting room.
The recent expansion gives the library 7,243 -sq.-ft. of
subterranean office space, 9,117- sq.- ft. of archive storage
areas and a 4,460-sq.-ft. research library. Visitors enter
the facility via the new 3,985-sq.-ft., sky-lit Annenberg
Court pavilion, walking over an embedded facsimile of the
presidential seal en route to the enlarged 1,350-sq.-ft. store/café/museum
entrance. This part of the museum is named after Leonore Annenberg,
widow of Nixon's ambassador of the Court of St. James, Walter
The new glass-lined corridor gives guests a view of the existing
Tricia Nixon Rose Garden and a large reflecting pool. Emerging
from this hallway are two 934-sq.-ft. meeting rooms and a
5,600-sq.-ft. exhibit hall. Three embedded display cases hold
items from both the resident collection and traveling ones.
A new 932-sq.-ft. catering kitchen occupies space behind
the public areas.
"After 14 years and two million visitors, this is the
completion of the vision," John H. Taylor, executive
director of the library foundation, said at the ribbon-cutting
Taylor credited Kevin Cartwright, the museum's director of
institutional programming, with the idea of recreating the
East Room at the library to serve as both an events venue
and meeting area. He said that before the expansion, "they
were opening the (former) lobby for special functions."
While retaining the appearance of the White House room, architect
Allen said he used modern materials to reproduce such items
as the draperies. Instead of Belgium silk for the golden-green
curtains, he opted to use a synthetic material, "which
lasts longer and is less expensive."
Additionally, the plans included a weatherproof, hard-wired,
audio-visual box for broadcasters to plug into "instead
of laying a bunch of cable," Soter said.
Outside, Allen continued the same columnar design of the
existing single-story building, which is reminiscent of early
California architecture, except for the exterior of the East
Room, which is patterned after the White House's veneer.