Robert C. Weaver Building History

Site History

The Robert C. Weaver Federal Building is located at 451 Seventh Street, Southwest on a site bounded by D Street on the north, an access  road along the Southwest Freeway/I-395 on the south, and L’Enfant Plaza/Ninth Street on the west. The building faces east, fronting  Seventh Street, and featuring a large public plaza, created by the unique elongated “X” shape of the building , which utilizes a central core with curving diagonal wings.

When selecting a site for the headquarters of the newly formed Department of Housing and Urban Development, southwest Washington, DC was a natural choice, given the ongoing urban renewal efforts to revive the quadrant. Known as the Southwest Washington Redevelopment Area, the neighborhood surrounding the HUD building was undergoing extensive redevelopment in the mid-century. Additional information about this unique Washington, DC neighborhood can be found under "What's Around?"

Design & Construction

Built between 1965 and 1968,  the Robert C. Weaver Federal Building is one of the most successful modern-era buildings in GSA's inventory. Among more than 700 construction projects undertaken by GSA between 1960 and 1976, the design and execution of the HUD building exemplifies the primary tenets of the "Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture" as set forth by President John F. Kennedy's administration in 1962. The HUD building is an extremely successful example of New Brutalism with its dramatic use of reinforced concrete, geometric purity, and a reduction of ornamentation to its simplest means.

Designed by master architect Marcel Breuer, 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. Notably, the project was completed significantly under budget, proving that innovative design could be economical.

Robert C. Weaver

On July 11, 2000, HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo presided over the renaming of the HUD Headquarters Building to honor Robert C. Weaver, the first HUD Secretary and the first African American member of a President’s Cabinet. The building was formally opened and dedicated by Secretary Robert C. Weaver on September 9, 1968. Dr. Weaver served as HUD Secretary from 1966 to 1968.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Weaver to head the Housing and Home Finance Agency (HHFA) – a collection of agencies that included the Federal Housing Administration, Urban Renewal Administration and the Federal National Mortgage Association. When President Lyndon B. Johnson elevated the agency to Cabinet-level in January 1966, he nominated Weaver to become Secretary, rejecting objections from some to the appointment of an African American to the Cabinet. During Weaver’s tenure at HUD, he is credited with increasing the availability of affordable housing, fighting to end housing discrimination by working for the passage of the landmark Fair Housing Act, and launching a comprehensive revitalization of America’s urban centers.

Last Reviewed 2017-07-05