FTC Building History

Original Design

The final agency building to be constructed during the Federal Triangle Project (1926-1938), the original design for the building was completed by Edward Bennett in 1933 and provided an equally decorative counterpart to the other Federal Triangle buildings. However, reduced funding as a result of the Great Depression caused the start of construction to lag for another three years. Ultimately, on November 13, 1935 a much reduced allocation of $3,665,000 was made to begin construction. In December of 1935 the Supervising Architect of the Treasury wrote Bennett to request a "radical change" in the previously approved plans corresponding with three criteria: 1) The interior arrangement must meet the needs of the Federal Trade Commission, 2) The design must be in harmony with the Justice Department Building and have a Washington "flavor," and 3) The design should be simplified to reduce costs.

Revised Design and Dedication

Architect Edward Bennett rose to the challenge of streamlining and simplifying his original design. Devoid of costly ornamentation, Bennett's final design is frequently referred to as "Stripped Classicism." In lieu of classical pediments and ornamental architectural features, artists were commissioned through the Section of Painting and Sculpture, a New Deal art program, to create exterior sculptures and bas reliefs to decorate and soften the austere facade.

Finally, in January 1937 excavation for the foundation of the Federal Trade Commission Building began. The Indiana limestone exterior was complete by January 5, 1938 and the building was totally occupied by April of that year. President Franklin Roosevelt laid the building's cornerstone, using the same silver trowel that George Washington had used to lay the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol in 1793, concluding, "May this permanent home of the Federal Trade Commission stand for all time as a symbol of the purpose of the government to insist on a greater application of the golden rule to the conduct of corporation and business enterprises in their relationship to the body politic."

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