The United States Naval Institute held a ceremonial groundbreaking on Wednesday, September 18, for the Jack C. Taylor Conference Center adjoining the organization’s headquarters on the Yard of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Founded in Annapolis in 1873, the U. S. Naval Institute is the independent forum of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. This conference center will serve as the physical flagship for engagement for the Institute’s independent, non-partisan forum. The state-of-the-art facility will provide an important new venue option for professional events for the Sea Services, the Naval Academy, and the Annapolis area.

Funded entirely with private donations, the conference center will feature a 406-seat auditorium with theater lighting and high-end acoustics, the most current display technology, five breakout rooms, and a catering kitchen. The center is being built with “green” features to achieve a Leadership in Energy and Efficiency Design (LEED) Silver certification. The conference center will also be built to accommodate classified discussions on a case-by-case basis.

Groundbreaking ceremony of the Jack C. Taylor Conference Center
Top founding donors and special guests of honor broke ground on the Jack C. Taylor Conference Center in a special ceremony on the afternoon of 18 September 2019.

“Today more than ever, our nation needs a place where professionals in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard can have a discourse on the direction of our naval forces, the direction of our nation, and to do so in a non-partisan environment that allows people to speak their mind and learn from others,” said General Peter Pace, USMC (Ret.), 16th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Chair of the Naval Institute Foundation Board of Trustees.

The Conference Center is named for Jack C. Taylor, a decorated U.S. Navy fighter pilot during World War II, entrepreneur, business leader, and philanthropist. After flying in combat duty in the Pacific Theater from the decks of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6), Taylor returned home to St. Louis and founded Enterprise Rent-A-Car in 1957.

General Peter Pace, U.S. Marine Corps, speaking at the groundbreaking of the Taylor Conference Center
"We are not only groundbreaking as far as dirt, but also as far as direction," remarked General Peter Pace, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired. "A lot of the hard work is done; a lot of it is still to come. . . . We really need those bright young minds who have some time to think to have a forum and a place to do it."

“There is no better example of the Greatest Generation, no better example of what an American should strive to become, than Jack Taylor,” said U.S. Naval institute CEO VADM Peter Daly, USN, (Ret).

Andy Taylor speaking at the Groundbreaking ceremony of the Taylor Conference Center
Andrew Taylor, Executive Chairman of Enterprise Holdings and the son of Jack Taylor, told how the Navy transformed his father's life.

“The Navy transformed him into a much better person, a much better businessman, a much better family man, and so we are really grateful for the Navy imparting those great Navy traditions and culture to him which he brought to our company,” said Andrew Taylor, Executive Chairman of Enterprise Holdings and the son of Jack Taylor.

Whiting-Turner will construct the project, scheduled to be completed in September 2021.