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The old NPR building at 635 Massachusetts Ave. NW in Washington, D.C., was torn down in stages. This photo shows what the building looked like in late June. (NPR)

The Old Tiny Desk Gets Demolished

Jul 30, 2013

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Reported by

Bob Boilen

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The old NPR building is gone for good. In particular, the last part of the building where our first 277 Tiny Desk Concerts were held is gone — the place where folks like the late Vic Chesnutt brought us nearly to tears, Macklemore punched the ceiling tiles and Gogol Bordello drank a lot of vodka while frontman Eugene Hutz danced on desktops. Today, at around 10 a.m. ET, the final wrecking ball demolished the last remains of our one-time home at 635 Massachusetts Ave. NW in Washington.

The whole series of concerts behind my desk started in 2008 with a joke: After Stephen Thompson and I saw singer Laura Gibson drowned out by a noisy bar in Austin, Stephen said we should just ask her to come play at my desk. Of course, she did just that, and the reaction was so overwhelming, and the intimacy so clear, that it became a series that's since featured everyone from Ralph Stanley, Jimmy Cliff, Kayhan Kalhor and Yo-Yo Ma to Tom Jones, Wilco, The Decemberists, K'naan and so, so many more. But it was Thao Nguyen who summed it all up best, after her Tiny Desk Concert, when she said, "It was intimate and awkward, a lot like my last boyfriend."

We documented our departure from the old building with OK Go back in the spring, and now the old place is really gone. But we're left with fabulous footage from an aging office building, proof that it's the people who made it magical.

Goodbye 635.

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