Seven Years in the Making
Children’s Inn Breaks Ground on Young Adult Quarters
The Children’s Inn at NIH marked the start of construction for the Young Adult Quarters at Bldg. 15B during a groundbreaking event on Dec. 1.
Scheduled to open in a year-and-a-half, the quarters will provide accommodations designed to meet the needs of young adults undergoing clinical studies at the Clinical Center and their caregivers. The building is part of a historic group of houses known as the “Officers Quarters.”
“We are so excited that inn families will make this house a home,” said inn CEO Jennie Lucca. “Patients and their families have had a pivotal role in the research that’s conducted at NIH. They help clinicians discover treatments that are shared around the world.”
The event was held on the building’s lawn, near the intersection of West and Center Drives. The quarters are across the street from the inn, close to the CC. Representatives from the Inn, NIH and architectural, engineering and design firms celebrated what Lucca called “an important milestone in our journey.”
Lucca knew the inn had to do more for young adults when she became CEO in 2015. Then, young adults stayed nearby at the off-campus Woodmont House, a transitional home for patients participating in pediatric research.
“Patients want to be here on campus close to the Clinical Center and their medical team,” she said.
The National Register of Historic Places recognized the Officers Quarters as a historic district in 2000, said Tony Clifford, chief engineer emeritus in the Office of Research Facilities (ORF). The eight buildings are the only small-scale residences on campus. Originally constructed in the early 1940’s, these homes were originally reserved as living space for Public Health Service officers and HHS and NIH senior staff. The renovated structures will feature historical exhibits that tell the stories of the scientists who once lived there.
The quarters are “where the past converges with the promise of a vibrant future,” Clifford said.
Long-time NCI Deputy Director Dr. Alan Rabson and his wife, Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, former NIH deputy director and NIGMS director, had lived in Bldg. 15B for several decades, said NIH Principal Deputy Director Dr. Lawrence Tabak, at the groundbreaking.
“Alan and Ruth were not the only famous scientists to make this place their home,” Tabak said. NIH directors, Nobel laureates, surgeon generals, among others lived here. “Still, they were recognized as the ultimate NIH power couple.”
Diane Baker, inn trustee and wife of former NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, regularly met Rabson for lunch when he lived on campus.
When Bldg. 15B became available, Baker suggested that it might be an alternative to the Woodmont House and Lucca then appealed to Clifford.
In 2017, NIH leadership granted the inn unlimited use of the building. The inn hired an architectural firm to draft design plans for the renovation. ORF and the Office of Research Services will fund the renovation, and the inn will complete the interior design with finishes to support young adults.
Before construction could begin, Clifford said ORF and ORS worked with the Maryland Historical Trust to ensure renovations maintain the quarter’s original aesthetic and character.
Right now, the building is known as the Young Adult Quarters. Unofficially, inn employees are calling it the “Rabson House,” in honor of the home’s previous occupant.
“The spirit infused in all these bricks and mortar will be greatly enriched and enhanced with the renovation and construction of a young adult residence,” concluded Tabak.