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Herbert C. Hoover Building

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Title: Herbert C. Hoover Building  
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Subject: United States Department of Commerce, White House Visitors Office, United States Patent and Trademark Office, Herbert Hoover, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Collection: Buildings of the United States Government in Washington, D.C., Commercial Buildings Completed in 1932, Government Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C., Greek Revival Architecture in Washington, D.C., Historic District Contributing Properties in Washington, D.C., Neoclassical Architecture in Washington, D.C., Office Buildings in Washington, D.C., Office Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C., United States Department of Commerce
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Herbert C. Hoover Building

Herbert C. Hoover Building
Herbert C. Hoover Building is located in Washington, D.C.
Herbert C. Hoover Building
Location 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.
Built 1932
Architect Louis Ayres
Architectural style Classical Revival
Governing body General Services Administration
Part of Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site (#66000865[1])

The Herbert C. Hoover Building is the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the United States Department of Commerce.

The building is located at 1401 Constitution Avenue, Northwest, Washington, D.C., 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 Hoover in 1981.[2] Hoover served as Secretary of Commerce (1921–1928) and later President (1929–1933). The closest Washington Metro station is Federal Triangle.

The White House Visitor Center (on the first floor)[3] is in the Hoover Building.[4]


  • History 1
  • Design and art 2
  • National Aquarium in Washington, D.C. 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Herbert C. Hoover Building, viewed from 17th Street NW near Constitution Avenue
Herbert C. Hoover Building main entrance, 14th Street NW and Constitution Avenue NW
Relief representing the United States Patent Office at the Herbert C. Hoover Building.

The Department of Commerce was established after President William Howard Taft signed 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.[5]

In 1928, Congress authorized the purchase of land in what is now known as the Federal Triangle for departmental offices.[6] 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 (280,000 m2) Federal Triangle site between the Capitol and the White House.[6]

Soon afterward Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon and the Board of Architectural Consultants, composed of leading architects and headed by Edward H. Bennett of the Chicago architectural firm of Bennett, Parsons, and Frost, developed design guidelines for the site.[6][7] 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."[6] Louis Ayres, a member of the board, was selected as the architect for the Department of Commerce Building.[8] Ayres, Arthur Brown Jr. (assigned to the Interstate Commerce Commission building, now one of the Environmental Protection Agency buildings) and William Adams Delano (assigned to the United States Post Office Department Building, now the William J. Clinton Federal Building) were charged with forming the west end of the Triangle and creating an open green mall.[8]

Construction began on October 4, 1927, when

  • General Services Administration page on the Herbert Hoover Building (Commerce)
  • Three Stories About the Department of Commerce Building

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

External links

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  2. ^ a b c d e "Clines, Francis X., and Phil Gailey. "Briefing." The New York Times 28 Dec. 1981.
  3. ^ "Visiting the White House."
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Federal Triangle Historic District." National Park Service.
  5. ^ a b c Farnsworth, Clyde H. "Washington Talk: The Commerce Department; A Many-Tentacled Agency Lights Up 75 Candles." The New York Times 3 Mar. 1988.
  6. ^ a b c d "U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC." General Services Administration. 21 Aug. 2007.
  7. ^ Gutheim, Frederick, and Antoinette J. Lee. Worthy of the Nation: Washington, DC, from L'Enfant to the National Capital Planning Commission Johns Hopkins UP: 2006, 181–189.
  8. ^ a b Pennoyer, Peter, and Anne Walker. The Architecture of Delano & Aldrich. W.W. Norton: 2003, p. 158.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Explore the Southern Trail: President's Park (White House)." National Park Service 5 Sept. 2005.
  10. ^ a b Clarity, James, and Warren Weaver. "Briefing." The New York Times 25 Apr. 1983.
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b OAE-19885. U.S. Department of Commerce. August 5, 2010, p. 2.Review of Management of Herbert C. Hoover Building Renovation.Office of the Inspector General. Accessed 2013-02-06.
  13. ^ a b January 5, 2012.Federal Times.Medici, Andy. "Three Massive Government Projects That Could Be Killed By Budget Cuts." Accessed 2013-02-06.
  14. ^ a b c February 4, 2013.Washington Business Journal.Neibauer, Michael. "Security Upgrades at D.C.'s Herbert Hoover Building May Enliven Dull Block." Accessed 2013-02-06.
  15. ^ OAE-19885. U.S. Department of Commerce. August 5, 2010, p. 2-3.Review of Management of Herbert C. Hoover Building Renovation.Office of the Inspector General. Accessed 2013-02-06.
  16. ^ OAE-19885. U.S. Department of Commerce. August 5, 2010, p. 3.Review of Management of Herbert C. Hoover Building Renovation.Office of the Inspector General. Accessed 2013-02-06.
  17. ^ Medici, Any. "Budget Cuts Stall Dozens of Building Projects." Federal Times. December 16, 2012.
  18. ^ "Department of Commerce Library." United States Department of Commerce.
  19. ^ GPO Federal Library Directory. United States Government Printing Office.
  20. ^ Hershey, Jr., Robert D. "Washington Watch: The Future Of Oil Prices." The New York Times 19 July 1982.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Freed, Benjamin R (2013-05-09). "National Aquarium in D.C. to Close September 30".  
  23. ^ "Washington, DC". Check this page for the latest updates surrounding the future of the National Aquarium, Washington, DC. The National Aquarium. Retrieved November 15, 2013. 


See also

The National Aquarium in Washington, D.C. was an aquarium in Washington D.C. It was located in the Herbert C. Hoover Building that was moved to the building since its creation in 1932. It was the nation's first free and public aquarium in US.[21] It closes on September 30, 2013 after Budget sequestration in 2013, having permanently lost its location due to the renovation of the Herbert C. Hoover Building. This is the first time that the Aquarium closes in 140 years since its opening in 1,873 and it is considering ways of opening at another location in Washington, D.C., but, has no specific plans yet.[22][23]

National Aquarium in Washington, D.C.

Because the Census Bureau is a part of the Commerce Department, the official Population Clock at one point was located in the lobby of the Hoover Building. It briefly malfunctioned in 1982 when it showed some 50 million more Americans than estimated.[20] The clock now resides at the Census Bureau's headquarters in Suitland, Maryland.

Also located inside the building is the Commerce Departmental Library (also called the U.S. Department of Commerce Main Library), a Federal Agency Library which is open to the public but is used mainly by Commerce and other federal government employees and academics. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Census Bureau, all part of the Department of Commerce, maintain their own library collections.[18][19]

The 15th Street facade stretches almost three city blocks and has four pedimented pavilions featuring sculptures by James Earle Fraser[4] 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.[4]

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[4] and a Neoclassical (Greek Revival) architectural style (a Doric colonnade on three sides).[4]

The Great Hall is 225 feet (69 m) long and 62 feet (19 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 Office is part of the Commerce Department).[9] As part of the United States Bicentennial celebrations, the Great Hall became the Bicentennial Visitor Center in 1976 and until 1989 housed the Washington Tourist Information Center.[9] Renovations began in July 1993 with the restoration of the ornate plaster ceiling to restore the simple elegance of the Great Hall.[9] The original Indiana limestone walls, bronze doors, Vermont marble base and accent flooring, and Italianate bronze chandeliers were cleaned and refurbished. In March 1995 the White House Visitor Center was opened.[9]

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.[4][5]

[5] has described it as "sprawling."The New York Times [4] The building is

Malcolm Baldrige Great Hall, named for former Commerce Secretary Howard M. Baldrige, Jr.

Design and art

By late 2012, however, budget cuts led to an indefinite delay in completing the project.[17] Nonetheless, GSA pressed ahead with plans in February 2012 to create a more secure barrier around the Herbert Hoover Building. GSA proposed a steel cable barrier concealed by stone cladding, deep-buried steel piers, and collapsing sidewalks. Beautification elements included two reflecting pools along 14th Street NW, which would include public seating and Capital Bikeshare stations.[14]

The project also proposed creating a new Constitution Avenue entrance for the National Aquarium. The NCPC approved this redesign in 2010.[14]

GSA's Federal Building Fund will contribute $605 million toward the renovation, while the Department of Commerce's contribution is $128 million. Another $225.6 million, provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, funded Phases 2 and 3. Both GSA and the Department of Commerce contributions are dependent upon annual congressional appropriations.[16] The Great Recession provided GSA with $40 million in savings.[13]

  • Phase 1 — Construction of "swing space" to house staff while renovations occur; replacement of the HVAC system cooling towers on the roof.
  • Phase 2 — Renovation of the interior Corridor 1 (which runs parallel to Constitution Avenue NW); restoration of the entire exterior facade; and replacement of major utilities serving the building.
  • Phase 3 — Renovation of the interior and replacement of the roof on Corridor 2 (the second corridor north of Constitution Avenue NW).
  • Phase 4 — Renovation of the interior and replacement of the roof on Corridor 3 (the third corridor north of Constitution Avenue NW).
  • Phase 5 — Renovation of the interior and replacement of the roof on Corridor 4 (the fourth corridor north of Constitution Avenue NW).
  • Phase 6 — Renovation of the interior and replacement of the roof on Corridor 5 (the fifth corridor north of Constitution Avenue NW).
  • Phase 7 — Renovation of the interior and replacement of the roof on Corridor 6 (the sixth corridor north of Constitution Avenue NW).
  • Phase 8 — Renovation of the interior and replacement of the roof on Corridor 2 (the corridor parallel to Pennsylvania Avenue NW).

In 2007, the General Services Administration announced an eight-phase, 13-year, $960 million modernization and renovation of the Herbert Hoover Building.[12] In part, the renovation will provide the building with a modern technology infrastructure, modern offices and energy-saving fixtures, and improved security.[13] The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) approved the renovation project in 2007.[14] The phases, each of which is to last 18 months, include:[15]

Only limited upgrades were made to the Herbert Hoover Building after 1932. By 2007, all other buildings in Federal Triangle had been renovated except the Herbert Hoover Building.[12]


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