Like the Department of War, the Department of State experienced rapid growth due to World War II, requiring it to seek quarters outside of the old State, War and Navy Building. In 1947, the Department of State moved its first unit into the Department of War Building in the Northwest Rectangle, and in 1955, Congress appropriated funds for an extension to the building to become the Department’s headquarters. This purpose-built extension incorporates features specific to the needs of the agency responsible for the international relations of the United States and has, along with the former War Department Building, served that agency for more than six decades.
The US Department of State Building is a massive, multi-wing, limestone- and granite-clad federal government office building. The building was constructed in two phases and consists of two principal parts: US Department of War Building, built 1939-1941, and the US Department of State Extension, built 1957-1960. The US Department of War Building, designed by private architects under the supervision of the Office of the Supervising Architect headed by Louis A. Simon, occupies the northeast section of the site. It is notable for its early Modern aesthetic of stripped classical elements, punched window openings, and minimal ornamentation, often referred to as Stripped Classicism.
Built twenty years later, the Department of State Extension presents a more mature example of Modernism. The eight-story building with a series of wings and courtyards, capped by a series of penthouses on the flat roofs, no longer alludes to Classical building forms or details. The building is constructed of concrete but clad in buff limestone and granite consistent with the federal government aesthetic.
DC Inventory: July 27, 2017