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C682W
Five-By-Five: The Making of the Pentagon (Live Webinar)PE & RA, AIA HSW

Jeffrey Syken

As war clouds gathered over the nationís capital in the summer of 1941, Washington D.C. was a beehive of activity as preparations for Americaís eventual entry into the Second World War reached fever pitch. By that time, for military planners it was a matter of when, not if, we would enter the fray. In fact, there were so many military personnel in the District of Columbia in the days before Pearl Harbor that they were ordered to wear civilian clothes to try and mask the build-up from isolationist government officials. With War Department offices spread across the District in no less than seventeen buildings, it was hard to disguise the fact that war was imminent and the decentralized offices of the military command were woefully inadequate. That may have been barely tolerable in peacetime, but in wartime it would be both inefficient and unacceptable.

Something had to be done, and quick. Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall turned to the head of the U.S. Armyís Construction Division Ė General Brehon Burke Somervell, a hard-driving, no-nonsense career military man to solve the problem for him. Somervell realized that centralization of War Department offices would solve the problem best. But where to put the largest office building in the world without spoiling the beautiful architecture of the capital and/or upsetting Pierre LíEnfantís street plan? It was obvious there was no site large enough in the District that could accommodate a low-rise building that would, under one roof, shelter 40K military and civilian personnel. So it was that a site; at the threshold of the National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, was chosen for its size and proximity to the capital. For some though, including the Fine Arts Commission and FDRís Uncle Frederic Delano, it was a little too close for comfort.

In the end, a site was selected to the immediate south, adjacent to the Washington-Hoover Airport in a tawdry area within the Potomac Riverís flood plain named Hellís Bottom. So as not to disturb the vistas of the capital, the building had to have a low profile and a large footprint. To save vital war materials, it would be made of reinforced concrete. Itís shape Ė a five-sided Pentagon, was a left-over from the original site which was bounded by five roads, but it worked well for a building so large and was retained (as efficient as a circle but at a lower cost because of its inherent straight lines). It would be completed in only sixteen months and, contrary to original intentions (it was planned to become a government archive after WWII ended), it became the permanent home of the nationís Department of Defense. Through hot wars, cold wars, regional conflicts and terrorist attacks directed at the building itself, it remains a potent symbol of Americaís military might, ever changing and adapting to its noble mission of defending the nation it serves.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.


Note to Webinar Attendees:

Our live webinars (web seminars) are considered as "Courses of Learning" (live courses) by the New York State Board for Engineering and Land Surveying and as "Timed & Monitored Courses" by the Ohio State Board for Professional Engineers and Surveyors. Unlike the traditional seminars held in a classroom setting, our webinars deliver live instruction to your home or office. You will be able to interact directly with our instructor during a webinar through audio channel or chat box. However, you must attend the webinar at a scheduled date and time. We will verify your attendance through our online webinar platform. The certificate of completion will not be issued unless you attend the webinar and pass a quiz (all quiz questions will be reviewed during the webinar). Thank you for your cooperation.

Next Scheduled Webinar for PDH Course C682W
Date and Time† Location Registration Deadline
Mon., Feb. 11, 2019, 5:00 PM - 9:50 PM ET
Web*
The webinar starting time.
* A webinar reminder with instruction on how to access our webinar platform will be emailed to you approximately 12 hours before the event.
† Special training arrangement can be made for 4 or more participants as a self-organized group. Please contact us for available training dates.

Note: This course requires users to pay first before viewing the course content.

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NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.

AIA Members: You must take the courses listed under the category "AIA/CES Registered Courses" if you want us to report your Learning Units (LUs) to AIA/CES. If you take courses not registered with AIA/CES, you need to report the earned Learning Units (not qualified for HSW credits) using Self Report Form provided by AIA/CES.

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