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Old Senate Chamber designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, this room was home to the U.S. Senate from 1819 until 1859 and later to the U.S. Supreme Court from 1860-1935.
Located north of the Capitol Rotunda is the richly decorated Old Senate...

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A view of the Capitol Visitor Center lit up at night
The Office of Congressional Accessibility Services (OCAS) provides a variety...

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An AOC worker mowing the grass on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol
The roles and responsibilities of the Architect of the Capitol cover an...

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Warehouses in Fort Meade, Maryland store items such as statues that were once displayed on the East Front of the Capitol.
The Architect of the Capitol is responsible for managing all of the buildings...

James Madison Memorial Building

James Madison Memorial Building

The Madison Building serves both as the Library's third major structure and as this nation's official memorial to President James Madison.
Location: 

101 Independence Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20540

www.loc.gov

Overview 

Opened in 1980, measuring 500 feet wide and 400 feet deep, the Madison Building is the largest library structure in the world (It encompasses 1.5 million square feet of space). The Madison Building serves both as the Library's third major structure and as this nation's official memorial to President James Madison.

The James Madison Memorial Building of the Library of Congress is an unusual combination of a national shrine contained in a working building.

In 1957, the Librarian of Congress, Quincy Mumford, initiated studies for a third library building to ease overcrowding. Congress appropriated planning funds for that structure in 1960. In an unrelated move that same year, Congress established a commission to create a national memorial for James Madison, Father of the Constitution and fourth President of the United States. Soon the goals of both ventures were merged when it was decided to construct the latest library building as a memorial to Madison. It was deemed particularly appropriate because his achievements seemed to lie in the area of intellectual pursuits.

Construction of the James Madison Memorial Building of the Library of Congress was approved on October 19, 1965, with an appropriation of $75 million. Excavation and foundation work began in June 1971, and work on the superstructure was completed in 1976. The cornerstone was laid on March 8, 1974. Dedication ceremonies were held on April 24, 1980, and the building opened on May 28, 1980.

The Madison Building was designed by the firm of DeWitt, Poor & Shelton, which had previously designed the east extension of the Capitol that was built in 1958-1962. With its tall colonnade of unadorned piers the design attempted to capture the spirit of classical architecture while remaining faithful to the canons of modern innovation. Critics have generally not been impressed, and usually deride the building as a cold, graceless, hard-edged box. All can agree, however, that it is commodious: it is 500 feet wide and 400 feet deep containing 2,100,000 gross square feet and 1,500,000 feet of assignable space.

It is one of the three largest public buildings in the Washington area; the Pentagon and F.B.I. Building are the others. With so much space, the library was able to relieve overcrowding in the Jefferson and Adams Buildings, which allowed them to be restored, rehabilitated and modernized.

The Architect of the Capitol was in charge of construction under the direction of the Senate and House Building Commissions and the Joint Committee on the Library. A committee appointed by the American Institute of Architects played an advisory role. Plans for the Madison Memorial Hall were developed in consultation with the James Madison Memorial Commission.

Last Updated: September 25, 2014