Social Security Administration (Wilbur J. Cohen Building)

The Wilbur Cohen Federal Building is one of the last buildings constructed under the extensive Federal office construction program of the 1920s and 1930s.

The Social Security Administration Building is located at 330 Independence Avenue, SW on a site bounded by Undependence Avenue, the building is a monumental presence amongst significant public buildings on the National Mall. The building is part of the modern architectural movement of the first half of the 20th century, while harking back to 19th century revivalism in its organization and detailing. Charles Z. Klauder, consulting architect under the supervision of Louis A. Simon, then Supervising Architect of the Treasury, designed the building with block-like massing, planar wall surfaces and simple geometric forms that are reflective of classically influenced modern styles that dominated the design of public buildings during the 1930s and 1940s.

Constructed between 1939-1940, the Social Security Administration Building is primarily clad in Indiana limestone and rises five stories above grade with a sixth floor penthouse/ recreational space. The building features centrally located entrance pavilions; four story deeply recessed vertically ganged windows; large exterior light courts fronting Independence Avenue and C Streets; and monumental pilasters and a continuous cornice line representing Egyptian pylons. The interior of the building falls more clearly into Art Moderne stylistic characteristics through the use of sharp contrasts between materials, clean geometric forms and shiny and smooth textured materials.

DC Inventory: April 26, 2007
National Register: July 6, 2007

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330 Independence Avenue, SW