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How the Pentagon Got Its Shape 473

Pcol writes "The Washington Post is running a story on the design process for the Pentagon building and why it ended up with its unusual shape. In July 1941 with World War II looming, a small group of army officers met to consider a secret plan to provide a permanent home for War Department headquarters containing 4 million square feet of office space and housing 40,000 people. The building that Brig. Gen. Brehon Burke Somervell, head of the Army's Construction Division, wanted to build was too large to fit within the confines of Washington DC and would have to be located across the Potomac River in Arlington. "We want 500,000 square feet ready in six months, and the whole thing ready in a year," the general said adding that he wanted a design on his desk by Monday morning. The easiest solution, a tall building, was out because of pre-war restrictions on steel usage and the desire not to ruin Washington's skyline. The tract selected had a asymmetrical pentagon shape bound on five sides by roads or other divisions so the building was designed to conform to the tract of land. Then with objections that the new building would block views from Arlington National Cemetery, the location was moved almost one-half mile south. The building would no longer be constructed on the five-sided Arlington Farm site yet the team continued with plans for a pentagon at the new location. In the rush to complete the project, there was simply no time to change the design."
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How the Pentagon Got Its Shape

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