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New Executive Office Building and Court of Claims Building

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1968–1969, John Carl Warnecke. 722 Jackson Pl. NW and 717 Madison Pl. NW

Warnecke's two government office buildings were consciously designed to respond to the materials, scale, and historical context of Lafayette Square. They represent a landmark attempt by the government's architectural establishment, which had been erecting both impossibly monumental and unbearably dull buildings in Washington during the 1950s and 1960s, to be conscious of the city's earlier built environment. Each rises out of the center of the block east and west of Lafayette Square, with primary ground-level access through courtyards connected to the square in addition to entries on 15th and 17th streets. Their ten-story heights were determined by the height of the Old Executive Office Building (see WH05).

Brick walls, domestically scaled windows organized into vertical bays, projecting bay windows on the upper floors, and even modernized versions of mansard roofs to mask the mechanical equipment were modern references to the forms, materials, and architectural languages found among the nineteenth-century buildings in the immediate area, while adjoining monumental and classical twentieth-century structures, such as the Treasury Annex and Chamber of Commerce, were ignored. These choices reflect the historical architecture admired at the time, but the contextual “background” buildings that were intended are in fact aggressive intruders, primarily due to the sheer bulk of their planar brick walls.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee
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Citation

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "New Executive Office Building and Court of Claims Building", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/DC-01-WH06.

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 159-160.

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