Department Of Justice Aluminum Survey

Washington, DC

The US Department of Justice building was built between 1933 and 1935 as part of the Federal Triangle development known as the McMillan Plan. The Beaux Arts building covers the block between Pennsylvania and Constitution Aves and 9th and 10th Sts. It is richly decorated with murals, sculpture and architectural metals in aluminum, an uncommon and expensive choice for the time. One of the most visible elements of this scheme are nearly two thousand aluminum windows, the design of which was somewhat of an inventive foray into a still relatively novel material at the time.

Years of exposure and repeated use have taken their toll on the windows leading to various forms of material degradation and performance-related issues. As part of a design team, we were tasked with surveying approximately 50% of these windows (over 900) and over 30 personnel doors to understand the current condition of these elements, building-wide. Our conservators developed a glossary of conditions, identifying the range of typical conditions affecting the windows and doors that was the basis of our survey. A comprehensive matrix was developed so that survey data could be recording directly in the field in real time. This survey will help cost estimators, conservators, architects and the General Services Administration consider the scope, logistics and costs of a major window restoration to be performed in the future.