Army engineer and Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs designed the historic Pension Building, today the home of the National Building Museum. Built from 1882 to 1887, the Pension Building was first conceived as a memorial to the Civil War and those who fought in it. At the time it was built, the Pension Building was the largest brick building in the world. Its architectural style mixes classical Renaissance and American industrial.
Brick Columns Soar in Courtyard
Meigs designed the building as a central courtyard ringed with rooms. This gave every office both a doorway to the interior courtyard and an exterior window. The result: more light and cross-ventilation than was common in buildings of that time. It is the central courtyard, with its iron-truss roof 159 feet at the highest point, that gives the building its most drama.
A Marching Army in Terra-Cotta
On the exterior of the building, a terra-cotta frieze, 3 feet high and 1,200 feet long, marches around the entire perimeter.