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James Forrestal Building

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1969, Curtis and Davis. Independence Ave. between 9th and 11th streets SW
  • James Forrestal Building (Franz Jantzen)
  • (Photograph by Karen Kingsley)

The James Forrestal Building, initiated in 1961, contains an imaginative floor plan, a manifestation of President John F. Kennedy's effort to improve the quality of federal government architecture. The major section, a long narrow structure running parallel to Independence Avenue between 9th and 11th streets SW, is raised on 36-foot pilotis, or piers, bridging the 10th Street Mall at its northern entrance. The unusual configuration resulted from the need to improve circulation for the Defense Department, which was to occupy building spaces on both sides of the 10th Street Mall. At street level, the vista from the rear of the Smithsonian Castle south along the 10th Street Mall is nearly unbroken. Pedestrian and automobile traffic pass unimpeded below the building. Clad in concrete panels with double windows, the building and its landscaping stand in stark contrast to the Smithsonian Castle and its lush gardens directly across Independence Avenue.

Writing Credits

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee


What's Nearby


Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "James Forrestal Building", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 236-236.

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