Bush Welcomes Back The Press

Julie Mason also posts some pics from the renovation…

See the full transcript and the White House Fact Sheet after the jump…

The President’s remarks:


    Office of the Press Secretary

    For Immediate Release July 11, 2007



    James S. Brady Briefing Room

    8:05 A.M. EDT

    THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I like a good, short introduction. (Laughter.)

    Q — (inaudible) —

    THE PRESIDENT: Yes. (Laughter.) After all, it is your room. (Laughter.) Welcome back to the West Wing. We missed you — sort of. (Laughter.) I can already tell this place has improved; the last time I was in here to hold a press conference I broke out into a sweat — not because of your questions, but because of the climate. The air-conditioner seems to work well. I hope the facility is — suits your needs. I really do.

    The relationship between the President and the press is a unique relationship, and it’s a necessary relationship. I enjoy it. I hope you do. As I say, sometimes you don’t like the decisions I make, and sometimes I don’t like the way you write about the decisions. But nevertheless, it’s a really important part of our process. And the fact that you were working in substandard conditions just wasn’t right. It really wasn’t.

    And so my White House worked with Steve and Ann, worked with Mark Smith to get it right. And I think it’s going to benefit future Presidents and future White House press corps, to be working in modern conditions, conditions where a fellow like me will feel comfortable coming in here answering a few questions without losing 20 pounds. (Laughter.)

    It was really hot in here. As a matter of fact, I can’t imagine how Snow could handle it on a regular basis. But now it’s modern, and it’s going to enable you to do a better job. And I’m glad that’s the case.

    I want to thank Peter Doherty — where is he? Yes, Peter, thanks for working hard here. You get a lot of credit for making sure this thing works. And one of these days Laura and I are looking forward to coming and actually see what it’s like working here. I’ve never toured — I’ve never even been able to get beyond the podium — (laughter) — if you know what I mean. As a matter of fact, I’ve always felt comfortable behind the podium in front of you, kind of as a shield. (Laughter.) But I would like a tour.

    Q Bullet-proof —

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s not exactly bullet-proof. Some of your bullets are able to — verbal bullets — (laughter) — are able to penetrate. But you’ve been around a long time, see, you know what it’s like to query Presidents. You’ve been — you’re kind of an older fellow. (Laughter.)

    Q — (inaudible) —

    THE PRESIDENT: Yes — proudly so. Thanks for the birthday greeting, too. I appreciate that thoughtful gesture.

    But, anyway, we’re glad to join you for this ribbon-cutting, and we thank you very much for working with Hagin and the bunch to make sure this thing — deal works. And it’s going to. And it’s going to make your life better and, frankly, it’s going to make the lives of future Presidents better, as well. And so it’s a good contribution that you all have left behind. And we’re glad to have been a part of it. And so — wait —

    Q What, do you think I’m going to ask a question?

    THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I did think you were going to ask me a question, yes. (Laughter.)

    Q I am. (Laughter.)

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, maybe some other time.

    Q Oh, but do you think you open —

    THE PRESIDENT: See what I’m saying? (Laughter.)

    Q You can’t come to the press room, especially a modern press room —

    THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute, let’s do this — let me cut the ribbon, and —

    Q You think anything has changed?

    THE PRESIDENT: Let me cut the ribbon — are you going to cut it with me, Steve — and then why don’t you all yell simultaneously? (Laughter.) Like, really loudly. (Laughter.) And that way you might get noticed.

    Q It doesn’t sound like you’re going to answer —

    THE PRESIDENT: No, I will. I’ll, like, listen —

    Q And leave?

    THE PRESIDENT: — internalize, play like I’m going to answer the question, and then smile at you and just say, gosh — (laughter) — thanks, thanks for such a solid, sound question.

    Here we go, ready? I’m going to cut the ribbon. (Laughter.) Then you yell. I cogitate — and then smile and wave. (Laughter.)

    Are you going to come, Laura? Here we go.

    (The President and Mrs. Bush cut the ribbon.) (Applause.)

    Q — (inaudible) —

    THE PRESIDENT: Brilliant question.

    Q — (inaudible) — cogitating that, right?

    THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. See you soon.

    Q We look forward to seeing you come and do a little —

    THE PRESIDENT: I will see you soon, thank you.

    Q Y’all come back. (Laughter.)

The Fact sheet:


    Office of the Press Secretary


    For Immediate Release July 11, 2007

    The 2007 Renovation Of The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

    Today, President George W. Bush Cut The Ribbon To Reopen The Renovated James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. The 2007 renovation marks the 37th year of press operations in the West Wing Terrace area. Driven by the need to replace aging utility infrastructure, renovations began in August 2006, at which time the press relocated to temporary space in the White House Conference Center on Jackson Place. In 2004, the Administration also renovated the North Lawn press media broadcast area.

    History Of The White House Press Briefing Room

    In 1970, The Press Began Using The “West Terrace Press Center,” Which Primarily Served As A Lounge, Briefing Area, And Work Space – With 40 Cubicles And 12 Sound Booths. In 1933, much of the West Terrace was converted into an indoor swimming pool for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. President Richard Nixon reportedly considered the pool to be underutilized and commissioned the space for use as a press area. Before 1933, the area had been subdivided into spaces used at times as an ice house, laundry, and servants’ quarters.

    In 1981, President Ronald Reagan Converted The Press Lounge Into A True Briefing Room With A Low Stage On The West End And Fixed Seats.

    In 2000, President Bill Clinton Named The Briefing Room The “James S. Brady Press Briefing Room” In Honor Of The Press Secretary Badly Wounded In The 1981 Assassination Attempt On President Reagan.

    Scope Of The Renovation

    New Interactive Media Backdrops: Interactive media will be displayed on two 45 inch screens in the podium backdrop. There are two distinct backdrop sets – one for the President and one for the Press Secretary. Press will receive a feed of the backdrop content under the Press Secretary set up.

    Improved Press Work Space: Press work space now benefits from increased and neater storage and new work stations. Press seats are wider and taller, and there are now 49 press seats on the main floor – up from 48 before the renovation – plus five new seats for White House staff.

    Safer, More Convenient Wiring: Floor-mounted cable connection ports have been added to increase convenience for reporters and significantly reduce stray, unsafe wiring. In addition, the swimming pool space below the briefing room floor is now used for electronics, allowing wiring to support telecommunications and broadcast television for the first time in the pool area. Circuitry has also been rearranged for optimal isolation and load balancing.

    Better Sound Balance: New loudspeakers and pick-up microphones over the press seats balance the sound and eliminate the need for a boom microphone.

    Cooler, More Energy-Efficient Lighting: Traditional incandescent lights have been replaced with nearly 50 low-energy, low heat light-emitting-diodes for cooler and more energy-efficient TV lighting.

    New, Front-Facing TV Production Work Stations: New TV production work stations at the rear camera deck create a protected, neat area in which technicians can operate and easily face the front of the room. The previous setup made it difficult for technicians to face the front of the room.

    New Support For Cut Cameras: The new knee wall provides set connection points and robotics support for cut cameras, which provide side-angle shots of the podium.

    Convenient, Safer Entry To The Swimming Pool Space: A new staircase allows safe access to the swimming pool space below the floor without disrupting a press event, in contrast to the hatch and ship’s ladder by which the area was accessed before renovation.

    Additional Cooling Capacity: The new design provides 45 additional tons of cooling capacity for 64 tons overall, including redundant equipment. The equipment has been located for less disruptive maintenance access and has an expected life of 20 years. The pool alone has 16 tons of capacity.

    Improved Heating: Electric re-heat has enhanced the ability to control humidity and eliminated the potential for steam leaks onto electronics in the room.

    Additional Data

    Concrete: The floor of the briefing room is now supported by steel and concrete, as opposed to the wood deck in place before renovation. Twenty-eight cubic yards (3 trucks) of concrete were poured for the pool slab and camera risers.

    Flooring: 300 square yards of rubber-backed carpet tiles were selected for durability, ease of cleaning, and replacement.

    Seating: Within the armrests, the 19-inch press seats are now 1 inch wider than before the renovation. There are now seven seats per row versus the prior six seats, and on average, the press is closer to the first row. This was achieved with the elimination of the flip-up writing surface and a reduction in width of around 6 inches in each side aisle.

    Higher Ceilings: At its highest point, the new acoustic ceiling is 15 inches higher than pre-renovation clearances. The lowest point of the cross-beams is 8 feet, 7 inches above the floor, which is nearly 8 inches higher than before the renovation. Sixteen structural beams were relocated to make room for HVAC ductwork. This relocation also accommodated the design for new and distinctive groined ceiling vaults.

    Historic: To attach structural beams, only a dozen wall tiles were removed (and salvaged) from the swimming pool. Otherwise, the swimming pool has been preserved (50′ x 15′ x 8′ deep).