Forty years ago the Watergate Complex housed a scandal that led to first and only resignation of a United States President, Richard Nixon. The abbreviated version is that Nixon used his powers of office to spy on his rival party’s headquarters, using taxpayer resources to do so. It was an act of unnecessary paranoia with extremely litigious consequences. Labeled the “Watergate Scandal”, the event inspired news afterwards to have the suffix “gate” added to it when the result is a flashy, public humiliation. So large was this scandal that its resonance has shaped modern media, particularly in the US. Though strangely the scandal might have even affected the architecture of the Watergate itself.
While the scandal of course did not change the physical characteristics of the building, it did change the way that architecture was perceived. Prior to the scandal, the Watergate was one of the most fashionable hotels in Washington. Afterwards, it became a symbol for the disillusion of federal power. A huge, glaring sign that nobility and politics are two different creatures, as they ever were. […]