- Herbert C. Hoover Building
The Herbert C. Hoover Building is the
Washington, D.C. headquartersof the United States Department of Commerce.
The building is located at 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, on the block bounded by Constitution Avenue NW to the south, Pennsylvania Avenue NW to the north, 15th Street NW to the west, and 14th Street NW to the east. It is located in the
Federal Triangle, east of President's Park South (the Ellipse), north of the National Mall, and west of other Department of Commerce buildings, the John A. Wilson Building, and the Ronald Reagan Building. The building is owned by the General Services Administration.
Completed in 1932, it was renamed after
Herbert Hooverin 1981."Clines, Francis X., and Phil Gailey. "Briefing." "The New York Times" 28 Dec. 1981.] Hoover served as Secretary of Commerce (1921–1928) and later President (1929–1933). The closest Metrorail station is Federal Triangle.
National Aquarium in Washington, D.C.(in the basement)" [http://www.nationalaquarium.com/ National Aquarium in Washington, D.C.] ."] and the White House Visitor Center(on the first floor)" [http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/tours/ Visiting the White House] ."] are both in the Hoover Building." [http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wash/dc42.htm Federal Triangle Historic District] ." National Park Service.]
The Department of Commerce was established after President
William Howard Taftsigned legislation creating the department on his last day in office, March 4 1913, splitting the former Department of Commerce and Labor into the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor.Farnsworth, Clyde H. " [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE7D61E39F930A35750C0A96E948260 Washington Talk: The Commerce Department; A Many-Tentacled Agency Lights Up 75 Candles] ." "The New York Times" 3 Mar. 1988.]
In 1928, Congress authorized the purchase of land in what is now known as the Federal Triangle for departmental offices." [http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/contentView.do?P=PMHP&contentId=19927&contentType=GSA_BASIC U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC] ." General Services Administration. 21 Aug. 2007.] The authorization was part of a wave of government construction; the 1926 Public Buildings Act permitted the government to hire private
architects for the design of federal buildings, which led to large-scale construction of public buildings, including the development of the 70 acre Federal Triangle site between the Capitol and the White House. Soon afterward Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellonand the Board of Architectural Consultants, composed of leading architects and headed by Edward H. Bennettof the Chicago architectural firmof Bennett, Parsons, and Frost, developed design guidelines for the site.Gutheim, Frederick, and Antoinette J. Lee. [http://books.google.com/books?id=wBsmPbw9ll0C "Worthy of the Nation: Washington, DC, from L'Enfant to the National Capital Planning Commission"] Johns Hopkins UP: 2006, 181–189.] Under Bennett's direction, each member of the board designed one of the buildings in the Federal Triangle complex to "provide each government agency or bureau with a building that would address its functional needs, while combining the individual buildings into a harmonious, monumental overall design expressive of the dignity and authority of the federal government." Louis Ayres, a member of the board, was selected as the architect for the Department of Commerce Building.Pennoyer, Peter, and Anne Walker. " [http://books.google.com/books?id=_cpIBYqTp_IC The Architecture of Delano & Aldrich] ". W.W. Norton: 2003, p. 158.] Ayres, Arthur Brown Jr.(assigned to the Interstate Commerce Commissionbuilding), and William Adams Delano(assigned to the United States Post Office Department Building) were charged with forming the west end of the Triange and creating an open green mall.
Construction began on
October 4 1927, when Herbert Hooverwas the Secretary of Commerce, and the cornerstonewas laid on July 10 1929, early in Hoover's presidential term." [http://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/explore-the-southern-trail.htm#CP_JUMP_100804 Explore the Southern Trail: President's Park (White House)] ." National Park Service 5 Sept. 2005.] The building was completed in 1932; at that time, it was the largest office buildingin the world.Clarity, James, and Warren Weaver. "Briefing." "The New York Times" 25 Apr. 1983.] The building was renamed after Hoover in December 1981 by act of Congress. U.S. Representative Arlan Stangelandof Minnesotaco-sponsored the bill and asked the House of Representatives to "pay tribute to this great Commerce Secretary," making no mention to Hoover's presidency, which was marked by the beginning of the Great Depression. Democratic Representative John G. Faryof Illinois, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Grounds brought the bill up for consideration as a favor to Republicans. An aide was quoted as saying, "He was a little concerned what some people might think of him bringing up a bill to honor Herbert Hoover in the midst of a Republican recession." The building was officially dedicated as the Herbert C. Hoover Building on April 25 1983, coinciding with the release of the first volume of George H. Nash's biography "The Life of Herbert Hoover: The Engineer."
Design and art
The building is rectangular and measures approximately convert|320|ft|m east to west and convert|1020|ft|m north to south. It forms almost the entire west side of the Federal Triangle from Constitution Avenue to E Street. The building contains more than 3300 rooms joined by unbroken corridors one thousand feet long. Flexible partitions rather than permanent
walls were a part of the original design for many of the offices to allow for changes in departmental organization. " The New York Times" has described it as "sprawling."
The Malcolm Baldrige Great Hall (named after
Howard M. Baldrige, Jr., Commerce Secretary 1981–1985 under Ronald Reagan) is located on the first floor of the north end of the building, facing Pennsylvania Avenue, houses the White House Visitor Center, operated by the National Park Service.
The Great Hall is convert|225|ft|m long and convert|62|ft|m wide and was originally used as the Patent Search Room for more than three million patents cataloged by the Department of Commerce (the
United States Patent and Trademark Officeis part of the Commerce Department). As part of the United States Bicentennialcelebrations, the Great Hall became the Bicentennial Visitor Center in 1976 and until 1989 housed the Washington Tourist Information Center." [http://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/explore-the-southern-trail.htm#CP_JUMP_100804 Explore the Southern Trail: President's Park (White House)] ." National Park Service 5 Sept. 2005.] Renovations began in July 1993 with the restoration of the ornate plasterceiling to restore the simple elegance of the Great Hall." [http://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/explore-the-southern-trail.htm#CP_JUMP_100804 Explore the Southern Trail: President's Park (White House)] ." National Park Service 5 Sept. 2005.] The original Indiana limestonewalls, bronzedoors, Vermont marblebase and accentflooring, and Italianate bronze chandeliers were cleaned and refurbished. In March 1995 the White House Visitor Center was opened." [http://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/explore-the-southern-trail.htm#CP_JUMP_100804 Explore the Southern Trail: President's Park (White House)] ." National Park Service 5 Sept. 2005.]
Aspects of other buildings built in Federal Triangle in the 1930s are present in the building, including
courtyards (natural light and ventilation are provided to inner offices by six interior courtyards and a Neoclassical (Greek Revival) architectural style(a Doric colonnadeon three sides).
The 15th Street
facadestretches almost three city blocks and has four pedimented pavilions featuring sculptures by James Earle Fraser and Haig Patigian. The National Aquarium is located in the basement and has been open to the public since the building was completed in 1932. The Department of Commerce Library Services Branch, a librarymainly used by Commerce and other federal government employees and academics, is also located inside the building. [" [http://www.osec.doc.gov/lib/ Library Services Branch] ." United States Department of Commerce.]
Because the Census Bureau is a part of the Commerce Department, the official
Population Clockis located in the lobbyof the Hoover Building. It briefly malfunctioned in 1982 when it showed some 50 million more Americans than estimated.Hershey, Jr., Robert D. " [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE7D61E39F930A35750C0A96E948260 Washington Watch: The Future Of Oil Prices] ." "The New York Times" 19 July 1982.]
* This article incorporates text from the
General Services Administrationand National Park Service, which is public domainas a work of the United States federal government.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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