Monday, June 30, 2008

HUD Headquarters is Landmarked

Per Greater Greater Washington: the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) unanimously approved landmark status for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) headquarters, a 1960's-era Expressionist building designed by Hungarian architect Marcel Breuer. The HUD website states the following about the building: "Constructed from 1965 to 1968, the building is recognized as the first federal building in the country to utilize precast concrete as the primary structural and exterior finish material, as well as the first fully modular design for a federal office building...At its ceremonial opening, the HUD building’s bold aesthetic and technological advances were hailed with optimism as a turning point for public architecture nationwide." Taste has changed significantly since its opening. This building is now derided as cold and uninviting to its surroundings, which in itself is also cold and uninviting. In 1990, there was an attempt to enliven the plaza area in front of the building. Martha Schwartz, a landscape architect, was commissioned to redesign the plaza. Her efforts resulted in the saucer-like canopies and circular planters that now grace the front along 7th Street.

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