Rayburn House Office Building

Rayburn House Office Building

The Rayburn House Office Building (RHOB) is a congressional office building for the U.S. House of Representatives in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C., between South Capitol Street and First Street.

Rayburn is named after former Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn. It was completed in 1965 and at 2.375 million square feet (220,644 m²) is the largest congressional office building and the newest House office building (the only newer congressional office building is the Hart Senate Office Building, completed in 1982.)


Rayburn was completed in early 1965 and is home to the offices of 169 Representatives.

Earlier efforts to provide space for the House of Representatives had included the construction of the Cannon House Office Building and the Longworth House Office Building. In March 1955, House Speaker Sam Rayburn introduced an amendment for a third House office building, although no site had been identified, no architectural study had been done, and no plans prepared.

The area west of the Longworth Building on squares 635 and 636 was chosen, with the main entrance on Independence Avenue and garage and pedestrian entrances on South Capitol Street, C Street, and First Street Southwest. The cornerstone was laid in May 1962, and full occupancy began in February 1965.


The Architect of the Capitol, J. George Stewart, with the approval of the House Office Building Commission, selected the firm of Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larson of Philadelphia to design a simplified, classical building in architectural harmony with other Capitol Hill structures. However, while the interior design of the other House Office Buildings retains decor one would expect to see in House Office Buildings (with cherry wood panellings, brass railings and marble floors), Rayburn possesses design style parallel to that of the 1960s, with chrome door handles, clocks, and elevators, loudly-colored walls coated with a shade of turquoise, and space-age fluorescent lighting fixtures.

The Capitol Subway System, an underground transportation system, connects the building to the Capitol, and pedestrian tunnels join it to all of the Congressional office buildings on Capitol Hill.

For construction of the "Rayburn House Office Building", the Congressional bill appropriated $2 million plus "such additional sums as may be necessary." Such additional sums eventually totaled $88 million. Congressional leaders inserted a gymnasium into the building plans, a fact that was not publicly known at the time of construction. Sitting in a sub-basement behind an unmarked door, thousands of visitors pass the gym each day, unmindful of the swimming pool, basketball court, paddle-ball courts, weight and exercise room, and lockers inside.

2006 shooting reports

On May 26, 2006, at 10:30 am local time, there were reports of the sounds of gunfire in the garage of the building. The Capitol complex was sealed off, and police reported that they had smelled gunpowder. All staff in the building were told to stay in their offices after the building was put into lockdown. Some parts of the lockdown were removed, though other areas remained sealed. The FBI was tasked with investigating the report.

Congressman Jim Saxton was reportedly the source of the false alarm, after he mistook construction sounds in the garage for gunfire. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/26/AR2006052600710_pf.html]


* [http://www.aoc.gov/cc/cobs/rhob.cfm The Rayburn House Office Building] , via Aoc.gov (Architect of the Capitol). Retrieved July 24, 2005.

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