This was the first building constructed according to plans developed during the 1920s for a civic center between Judiciary Square and Pennsylvania Avenue. The building was designed by municipal architect Nathan C. Wyeth and constructed with the aid of Public Works Administration funds between 1939 to 1941.
Notable features include the cast aluminum revolving doors and abstracted classical columns, capitals, and moldings. In the interior courtyards are two enormous ceramic sculptural panels: Democracy in Action by Waylande Gregory, and Health and Welfare by Hildreth Meiere. Flanking the plaza steps to the west of the building are two granite bas-relief sculptural panels: Urban Life by John Gregory, and Light, Water, and Thoroughfare by Lee Lawrie. In the south lobby floor is a terrazzo map of the District of Columbia, and near the north entrance is an octagonal fountain by the John J. Earley Studio (dedicated in 1980 as the Washington Area Law Enforcement Memorial).
Part of the Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site, which is listed at national level significance for its use as a ceremonial route of inaugural parades and civic processions. The Pennsylvania Avenue Historic Site includes 160 contributing buildings c. 1791-1930.
National Historic Site and National Register listing: October 15, 1966
DC listing: June 19, 1973
NR listing amended with documentation: October 12, 2007