Department of the Interior (New Interior Building)

Commissioned by the FDR administration, the Department of the Interior features a large collection of New Deal art inside.

Commissioned by the Roosevelt administration in 1934, designed by architect Waddy Butler Wood, and supervised throughout by Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes, the Interior Building was dedicated on April 16, 1936. The building's exterior reflects the Art Moderne style popular in the 1930s, an intentional departure from the traditional classicist style of the majority of federal government office buildings in the District of Columbia. Austere and simply decorated on the exterior, the building itself is seven stories high with a basement, as well as an additional floor between the fifth and sixth stories devoted entirely to mechanical equipment.

The Interior Building is an excellent example of Federal government architecture that, in both conception and design, reflects the humanistic concern and "progressivism" that characterized Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Administration. The latest innovations in building technology were utilized by Waddy B. Wood in the construction of the structure to ensure the comfort, safety, and wellbeing of some 4,000 employees. At the time of construction, the Interior Building provided the most modern and comfortable work environment for federal employees in Washington.

The building is significant as well as the last major work of Wood, one of Washington's most prolific architects in the first decades of the 20th century. Also, of significance is the extensive artwork—large-scale murals and sculpture in the public corridor—that is an integral part of the building's interior design. By many American artists who had gained national reputation by the 1930s, the murals and sculpture in the Interior Building constitutes the largest collection of New Deal art in a Federal government office building. Finally, construction of the building itself in 1934 reflected growing Federal concern and involvement in conservation and the planned use of America's natural and man-made resources—an impetus that culminated in key conservation legislation of the later 1930s and well beyond to the '60s, '70s, and '80s.

DC Inventory: November 8, 1964 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)
National Register: November 10, 1986



18th & C Streets, NW