Construction of the HCHB from 1929-1934
Commerce Gets a New Home
During the 1920's, the Department of Commerce grew massively under Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover. By 1926, the department's numerous bureaus were scattered about the city in ten separate buildings; the construction of the Federal Triangle complex would provide the opportunity to bring them all under one roof.
Using the same trowel that George Washington used to lay the U.S. Capitol's cornerstone, Herbert Hoover, then president, laid the building's cornerstone on June 10, 1929. The building was completed in 1932 and was the largest office building in the world at the time, with over 1.8 million square feet of floor area. In 1981, Congress renamed the agency headquarters the Herbert Clark Hoover Department of Commerce Building to "pay tribute to this great Commerce Secretary".
With over 3,300 rooms, the eight-acre building is a large, steel-framed rectangular mass pierced by six internal courtyards, with a tall attic story concealing the top two floors. Indiana limestone and accent elements in different granites demonstrate the Italian-inspired Second Renaissance Revival style with imposing lobbies, bas-relief panels depicting the Commerce Department's numerous bureaus and inscriptions relating to commerce, and monolithic colonnades.