Federal Office Building No. 6, now known as the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building, received its original moniker as one of fifteen new office buildings of the 1956 plan for federal government facilities in Washington, DC.
The National Capital Planning Commission's (NCPC) early 1950s plans acknowledged the difficulty of further federal expansion into DC’s Northwest quadrant. The new General Services Administration (GSA), created in 1949 to handle construction and logistics for the expanding bureaucracy, prepared a comprehensive plan for new construction, as well as additions and rehabilitation of federal buildings in and around DC. The GSA coordinated closely with NCPC, which anticipated additional projects in Southwest since NCPC identified as an approproate area for urban renewal.
GSA selected two DC architecture firms for the office building development: Faulkner, Kingsbury and Stenhouse and Chatelain, Gauger and Nolan. Directed to maximize efficiency, the firms' architects provided a floor plan to accommodate 2,900 employees with no wasted space or superfluous ornament. Around this time, the Modern architecture movement became popular among American designers, as it encouraged this type of efficient work space.
In addition to satisfying NCPC and Congress with a proposed design, GSA had to submit the project for review by the US Commission of Fine Arts (CFA). An immediate concern of CFA’s was the length of the building and the "commercial office building" facade. CFA encouraged the building be set back in a plaza, giving it an impressive approach and out of the Maryland Avenue vista to the Capitol. Despite budget constraints, the project team engaged prominent landscape architect, Lester Collins (1914-1993), to design the surrounding plaza and terraces; the most notable feature is a sunken fountained courtyard.
The Federal Office Building No. 6 was the first built in the larger development project. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), as well as the Departments of Health, Education, and Welfare, served as the building's first occupants. Today, the Department of Education still occupies this space.
DC Inventory: March 23, 2017
National Register: January 24, 2017