F. Edward Hebert Federal Building, New Orleans, LA
The F. Edward Hebert Federal Building is a large, modernistic, eleven-story limestone structure of approximately 244,000 square feet, constructed in 1939. The building is typical of the austere detailing used in government buildings of the late 1930s following a period of Art Deco designs. The massing of the primary elevation is that of a tall central projecting pavilion, flanked by two low colonnaded entry pavilions at each end. The wall plane above the entry pavilions is set back and there is a further set back at the corners. The tall central pavilion is a flat planar surface whose verticality is emphasized by the appearance of full-height (eight to nine-story) abstracted pilasters, created by recessing the vertical window systems. The vertical effect is further emphasized by the fact that the other windows in the set-back wall planes at the ends are merely rectangular openings in a flat wall surface, creating a grid-like appearance, in opposition to the verticality.
The plan is an elongated rectangle approximately 260'x130', with the primary facade along the long side, at the north. The footprint is reduced above the second floor to an elongated U-shape plan, with the long side at the front and wings projecting rearward, creating a large open light well to the rear.
The interior plan is symmetrical, with entry lobbies at either end, connected by an elongated corridor. Upper floors consisted of offices on double-loaded corridors. The building has been altered eliminating the original corridors and filling-in with "open" office space on all levels. Remaining significant interior features include the marble lobbies at the east and west entries, and the east and west elevator lobbies on each floor.
The F. Edward Hebert Federal Building in New Orleans is significant because it is representative of the Modernistic style of architecture and is a symbol of the federal presence in New Orleans.
The limestone building exhibits rectilinear elements with little embellishment. Many commercial buildings of the 1930s were built in the sleek Modernistic style. The windows are slightly set-back (reminiscent of the Art Deco style) as is characteristic of this style.
The Hebert Building was constructed as a Federal Building and U.S. Post Office in 1939. The passage of the Public Buildings Act of 1926 precipitated a period of building construction that was unprecedented in the United States. The Public Buildings Act specified that the Office of the Supervising Architect of the Department of the Treasury would be responsible for the design and construction of all public buildings. The Hebert Building was constructed during this period. The Office of the Supervising Architect of the Department of the Treasury designed the Federal buildings of the 1930s and many of these buildings exhibit streamlined, almost austere, finishes and features. Howard Cheney is listed as "consulting architect." It is likely that he designed the building under the auspices of the U.S. Treasury Department. When possible, the Treasury Department used local architects in an effort, during the Depression, to stimulate the local economy. The postal presence has been reduced and currently the building serves primarily as a federal building. The F. Edward Hebert Federal Building remains a symbol of the federal presence in New Orleans.