From GW Encyclopedia
Address: 725 21st Street, N.W.
Square and lot, bordering streets: Square 102, lot 838 (G, H, 20th, 21st Street)
Architect: Albert L. Harris & Arthur B. Heaton
Date of construction: 1924
Original owner: George Washington University
Architectural Description: Corcoran Hall was designed in 1924 as a joint effort of Albert L. Harris and Arthur B. Heaton, and compliments Stockton Hall (built only months later facing 20th Street). Four stories of concrete and steel framing are faced with brick and limestone; it is 136 feet wide and 55 feet deep. The building is rectangular in plan and mass. A centrally placed entrance is flanked by four segmental arched windows on each side. The symmetrical order is continued by the first and second stories and the third and fourth stories, narrow limestone window enframements, and a simple cornice reinforce tine restrained mood of the composition. The proportioned facade is simple, both in organization and use of materials. A cupola with windows adorns the roof. (GW website)
Historic designation: DC Landmark, 11/18/87
Corcoran Hall was dedicated October 28, 1924, and named for William Wilson Corcoran, President of the Trustees and benefactor of the University. It was the first building constructed for GW on its Foggy Bottom campus. Built by Wardman Construction Company, Corcoran Hall was constructed as a classroom building. From 1934-1956, renowned nuclear physicist George Gamow taught and conducted research in Corcoran Hall. He was a key participant in the Washington Conferences on Theoretical Physics in the 1930s and 1940s, which placed GW at the center of the world's most advanced research in the field.
Thanks to a government contract designed to develop new technologies during World War II, the basement of Corcoran Hall was the birthplace of the bazooka. The program was so successful that its budget grew from nine million dollars annually at the beginning of the war to a budget of one hundred million dollars a month in 1945.
Today, the department continues to host scientists performing cutting edge research and scholarship. The Departments of Chemistry and Physics call Corcoran Hall home.
Photographic Credit: GW University Historical Photographs Collection
Author or Source: Application for Historic Building Registry, 1974; Reconnaissance-Level Architectural Survey Of Properties In Foggy Bottom, Washington, D.C., 1999 (RG0063, Series 10, Box 1, Folder 3)
Document Location: University Archivies
Date Added to Encyclopedia: December 21, 2006, updated October 25, 2011
Prepared by: Lyle Slovick; G.David Anderson
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