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It’s not often that a federal government institution escapes the tyranny of bland, standardized signage. Most of it has to be approved by the regulatory bodies that enforce a dignified sterility on the city’s bureaucratic office districts. So the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau‘s cheeky lowercase comes as a kind of shock: Is that even allowed? I thought, stopping short while rolling by 1700 G Street NW.
The graphic freshness is symbolic of a more significant change, obviously: The new agency has over the last few months taken over a building once used by the now-defunct Office of Thrift Supervision, which took as much blame as anything for the crashing and burning of Wall Street a few years back. Elizabeth Warren‘s brain child is supposed to be a different kind of agency, dedicated to helping individuals navigate an array of financial institutions that want to take their money. Thus, the bold and simple website design. And soon, according to a report from when the move was announced a year ago, a first-floor lobby that will hold “regular educational programs, including interactive kiosks and 21st century learning centers,” according to the Treasury.
“We want the building to have as much public space as possible. We’re hoping that we can open up parts of the lobby and the adjacent patio for families and service groups, for foreign visitors and local school kids, for anyone who comes to town,” Warren said back then. “This agency belongs to the American public, and we want the American public to be welcome.”
The Bureau didn’t answer a phone call or e-mail Friday, and a worker there didn’t know when the lobby space would be set up. It would be a sad first promise to break!