Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Federal Triangle

Atop the Federal Triangle metro stop is...believe it or not - the Federal Triangle! This important group of federal offices is along the national mall and occupies 70 acres between the Capitol building and the white house. After the 1926 public building's act, the government was permitted to hire private architectcs to design federal buildings. U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon (sound familiar? He is responsible for a lot of prominent buildings here in DC among other cities) and a board of architectural consultants headed by Edward H. Bennett (of the Chicago architectural firm of Bennett, Parsons, and Frost) developed design guidelines for the site. Each member of the board designed one building. The guidelines were meant to incoprorate all the seperate buildings into a dignified monumental whole. Limestone facades, red-tile hipped roofs and classically inspired colannades were just some of the features that linked all the buildings together.
My favorite is the one right on top of the metro seen in these pictures, the New Post Office (now the old post office!) also known as the Ariel Rios Federal Building. This was designed by one of my favorite firms, not surprisingly at all, Delano & Aldrich and was finished in 1935. This was built as the core feature of all the buildings and was modeled on the Place Vendome in Paris.
According to this informative website HERE, the central section of the building is comprised of two huge back to back, semi-circular units with side wings. The 1/2 circle formed by the building's curve was to be mirrored by a similarly curved façade built across the Street on the site of the Old Post Office Building, seen below.

The Old Post Office, which has magnificent views of the city from the tower and is always full of tourists, was fortunately saved from the wrecking ball in 1970 and is now private offices. However, the rest of Delano and Aldrich's plan for a main circular court in the federal triangle was never completed because of this. Half of the court exists anyway for us to enjoy! I hope you enjoyed this tour and my photos!

7 comments:

Toby Worthington said...

Another excellent tour!
The understated classicism of Delano and Aldrich is frequently spurned in favor of more robust styles but I can't see why, in this case.

ArchitectDesign said...

Thanks, Toby! I agree, I prefer this quieter classicism.

Edi Style said...

fantastic post! Thank you

Pigtown-Design said...

YAY on the mention in the post this morning. you deserve the recognition!

ArchitectDesign said...

Aww, Thanks PD!!

Lauren said...

Have you read Devil in the White City? If you haven't, I think you'd really enjoy it. (About Bennett & the architects designing Chicago's World Fair) Thanks for the great tour!

ArchitectDesign said...

Thanks Lauren! Yes, I read it just a few months ago; it was ok, interesting. I felt the story part wasn't cohesive and I already knew all the history, it seemed a bit dumbed down -but it was an enjoyable read!!