Blending Historic Context and Classical Order with Modernism.


Federal Triangle is the government’s massive classical revival office complex that was left unfinished after construction was halted during the Great Depression. The 11-acre site was the last remaining open parcel along Pennsylvania Avenue, which was since used as a parking lot. ...Read More

A new building complex, called The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, was designed to complete the Federal Triangle site. It was developed under the leadership of James Freed working with a team of private developers to the government’s specifications.

The program for this 3 million square feet project had to accommodate government offices, private businesses and public amenities. In addition to 1.5 million square feet of offices it included U.S. Center for World Trade, public circulation and atrium, retail and exhibit areas, conference center, auditorium, food court, ballroom, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (including the Woodrow Wilson Memorial) and parking for 2,000 cars.

The building was designed with respect to its historic context through its scale and use of materials, while incorporating modern detailing. The limestone exterior facades, terra-cotta tile roof and vertical window pattern contrast with a dramatic atrium lit by a conical glass structure and public concourse offering retail, dining and connections to mass transit and neighboring buildings.

The building facade is an integration of modernism’s crisp lines and classical order. The design objective was to avoid being mistaken for a part of the original Federal Triangle by a purposeful blending of the two styles.