Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building - History - Construction


The Office of the Attorney General was created by the 1st United States Congress by the Judiciary Act of 1789. In 1792, the Congress made the Attorney General a Cabinet-level post. In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill creating the Department of Justice. Still, there was not yet a permanent home for either the Attorney General or the Justice Department, and each had occupied a succession of temporary spaces in federal government buildings and privately owned office buildings. While plans to provide the Department with its own building were developed as early as 1910, it was not until the late 1920s that significant progress was made toward this goal.

In 1908 and in 1928, Congress authorized the purchase of land in what is now known as the Federal Triangle for departmental offices. The authorization was part of a wave of government construction; the 1926 Public Buildings Act permitted the government to hire private architects for the design of federal buildings, which led to large-scale construction of public buildings, including the development of the 70-acre (280,000 m2) Federal Triangle site between the Capitol and the White House. Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon and the Board of Architectural Consultants, composed of leading architects and headed by Edward H. Bennett of the Chicago architectural firm of Bennett, Parsons, and Frost, developed design guidelines for the site. Under Bennett's direction, each member of the board designed one of the buildings in the Federal Triangle complex to "provide each government agency or bureau with a building that would address its functional needs, while combining the individual buildings into a harmonious, monumental overall design expressive of the dignity and authority of the federal government."

Milton Bennett Medary of the Philadelphia firm Zantzinger, Borie and Medary was selected as the architect for the Department of Justice Building; upon Medary's death in 1929, the project was taken over by his two partners Charles L. Borie, Jr. and Clarence C. Zantzinger.

In 1930, Congress appropriated $10 million for the construction of a permanent Department of Justice headquarters in the Federal Triangle. The building was constructed from 1931 to 1934. Upon completion in 1935, the building finally provided a headquarters for the Attorney General and Department of Justice. From 1935 to 1941 68 murals were painted in the building (an example of New Deal art).

Read more about this topic:  Robert F. Kennedy Department Of Justice Building, History

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