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Dirksen Senate Office Building

 

Dirksen Senate Office Building

Dirksen Senate Office Building
Named for Everett Dirksen
Dirksen Senate Office Building is located in Washington, D.C.
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Location within Washington, D.C.
General information
Type Offices for members of the U.S. Senate
Location United States Capitol Complex
Town or city Washington, D.C.
Country United States
Coordinates
Completed October 15, 1958
Technical details
Floor area 712,910 square feet (66,232 m2)
Design and construction
Architect Otto R. Eggers
Daniel Paul Higgins
Architecture firm Eggers & Higgins
Website
Dirksen Building Official site

The Dirksen Senate Office Building is the second office building constructed for members of the United States Senate in Washington, D.C., and was named for the late Minority Leader Everett Dirksen from Illinois in 1972.

History

On the eve of America’s entry into Alaska and Hawaii as states, four new senators would also require office space. As pressure for more space mounted, the Senate in 1948 acquired property on which to erect a second office building in order to accommodate the enlarged staff.

The consulting architects, Otto R. Eggers and Daniel Paul Higgins firm Eggers & Higgins of New York, drew the plans for a seven-story building faced in white marble, to be located across First Street from the Old Senate Office Building (Russell Senate Office Building) and diagonally across the Capitol grounds from the Senate wing of the Capitol. Although more streamlined and less ornate, the new building was designed to harmonize with the Capitol and the first Senate Office Building. Bronze spandrels between the third and fourth-floor windows depicted scenes from American industry: Shipping, Farming, Manufacturing, Mining and Lumbering. Below the new building’s west pediment is the inscription: “The Senate is the Living Symbol of Our Union of States.”

map of the Capitol complex, with the Dirksen Building in red in the upper right

Although the Senate approved the plans for the new building in 1949, construction was delayed until 1956. By then, increased costs of construction caused some scaling back of the original design, including the elimination of a planned central corridor. With Architect of the Capitol J. George Stewart looking on, members of the Senate Office Building Commission laid the cornerstone on July 13, 1956, and the new office building opened on October 15, 1958.

The Dirksen Building was designed to accommodate the television era, complete with committee hearing rooms equipped with rostrums that were better suited to listening to testimony than sitting around conference tables, as had been done in previous committee rooms, both in the U.S. Capitol and the Russell Senate Office Building. In the 1970s, a third Senate office building, the Hart Senate Office Building was built next to the Dirksen Building on a spot originally intended for a mirror image of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The Hart and Dirksen Buildings are connected and one can walk between the two almost as easily as if they were one structure.

Renovation

The building was renovated during 1999-2000 under the auspices of the Architect of the Capitol, who at the time was Alan M. Hantman, FAIA. Day-to-day supervision of the project carried out by Assistant Architect Michael G. Turnbull, FAIA. The renovation was well received by Senators and their staff. Senator Robert F. Bennett of Utah, Chairman of the Senate Legislative Branch Subcommittee, made the following comments regarding the renovation:

When I came here, the Dirksen Building was considered the low-rent district, and Senators would start their careers in the Dirksen Building and then move out as quickly as they possibly could. I have nostalgia for the Dirksen Building because this is where my father had his office, and I was very content to stay here.... Now that it has been renovated--and mine was the first suite to be renovated--I consider that we are in the high-rent district.
... thank you for the truly well thought out way in
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