Department of Housing and Urban Development

Expressionistic in name and style.

Introduced by President John F. Kennedy and written by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a lifelong advocate for urban design excellence, the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture promoted federal government architecture that would “reflect the dignity, enterprise, vigor and stability of the American National Government” and “embody the finest contemporary American architectural thought.” The Department of Housing and Urban Development Building, the first to be built according to the principles, also symbolized the values of a newly created cabinet-level department committed to addressing the urban decline caused by the wave of post-World War II suburbanization.

The HUD headquarters was designed by world-renowned architect Marcel Breuer and his associate Herbert Beckhard for a site in the Southwest urban renewal area that would show the federal government’s commitment to urban reinvestment. Breuer used concrete in bold and innovative ways to create an Expressionist building with a sweeping, curvilinear X-shaped form. This represents the first use of precast and cast-in-place concrete as the structural and finish material for a federal building, and it was also the first fully modular federal building.

The building was renamed in 1999 to honor Washington native Robert C. Weaver, who served as Lyndon Johnson’s HUD Secretary from 1966-68 and was the first African American member of a Presidential cabinet. The building was constructed from 1965 to 1968 and includes a 1990 plaza redesign by landscape architect Martha Schwartz. [source: DC Historic Sites. Note: the site refers to Marcel Breuer as a French Architect, whereas he was actually Hungarian]

It is -unsurprisingly- listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Washington, D.C.

March 23rd, 2019

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