The Pentagon is not just an ordinary office building, William E. Brazis, the director of Washington Headquarters Services, said July 12 at a dedication ceremony for the newest history exhibit to open in the building.
The Pentagon Building History Exhibit shows the evolution of the five sided structure from its earliest planning stages through its most recent modernization, which was completed in late 2011.
Brazis noted that for those who work in the Pentagon, it’s easy to forget how much of American history has taken place or been directed from within its walls.
“This is just not an ordinary office building. It’s a place where history is made, one person at a time,” Brazis said. “Since 1942, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for 70 years, every second that’s ticked there have been our fellow citizens working in this building.”
He called the Pentagon a symbol of American democracy and commitment to freedom and liberty around the world. “We have to remind ourselves that this is an incredible place with an incredible history … woven into the fabric of the history of our nation,” he said.
The new exhibit features life-size images of Pentagon employees at work in their offices. Located between the C and D rings of Corridor 2, on the Pentagon’s third floor, the exhibit consists of three main parts.
Several hallway display cases contain photos and artifacts from the 1940s and the 1990s, the decade when the Pentagon was originally constructed and the time just before the most recent renovations. Two preserved office spaces from those periods make up the largest part of the exhibit.
A multimedia space lets visitors see how the Pentagon was originally constructed and also describes the Phoenix Project — the reconstruction of a portion of the building following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack.
“We wanted to show what’s behind the walls. The ceiling, the columns, the terracotta wall are all historical to the 1940-41-42-43 [construction period],” said Bill Hopper, the communications manager of the Facilities Services Directorate. “We wanted to show a deconstructed room but also we wanted to show the life. We have many images from the period of time of the building of the Pentagon.”
Preserving the office spaces is the right thing to do, said Michael L. Rhodes, the director of Administration and Management for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
“It was a terribly smart thing to come up with. It was done at the right time so that we could truly preserve a piece of this history,” Rhodes said.
He anticipated that the exhibit would be included in the official Pentagon tours.