Dedication of The Pentagon (1943)
The world’s largest office building, construction began on the Pentagon on September 11, 1941. Designed by architect George Bergstrom, approved construction contracts totaled $3.1 million. The original site for this government facility was Arlington Farms, which was shaped like a pentagon. This is why the building is shaped as such. However, concerns that the building might obstruct the view of Washington, D.C. from Arlington Cemetery, President Roosevelt opted for the Hoover Airport site.
The Pentagon took less than two years to complete and was dedicated on January 15, 1943.
Some interesting facts about this historical building:
- Design work for the building proceeded during actual construction. Sometimes construction would get ahead of design and different materials were used than specified in the final plans.
- Due to racial segregation, the Pentagon was constructed with separate dining and toilet facilities. In June 1941, President Roosevelt ordered the end to discrimination and to remove the “Whites Only” signage. At the time, and for many years after completion, the Pentagon was the only building in Virginia where segregation was not allowed.
- Construction contracts were approved on September 11, 1941 and construction began that same day.
- Due to steel shortage the building’s height was capped at just over 77 feet and was built as a reinforced concrete structure. This explains its vast “sprawl” across nearly 29 acres.
- Rather than elevators, concrete ramps were built.
- Engineers used 680,000 tons of sand from the Potomac River. Indiana limestone was used for the facade.
- The Pentagon uses six zip codes and it’s registered postal address is Washington, D.C., even though it is located in the state of Virginia.
- The square footage of the Pentagon is 6,636,360 square feet. The parking lot is 67 acres.
- During the Cold Ware, the central plaza was referred to as “ground zero” based on concerns the Soviet Union would target nuclear missiles to that location.
While the Pentagon has undergone many improvements over the years, the core design of this unique structure remains intact. Today, nearly 3,700,000 square feet are used as offices, and the building houses about 28,000 military and civilian personnel.