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Architects and designers have traditionally used symbolism or iconography to convey a sense of meaning to the buildings they design. Many of these symbols have been used for centuries, sometimes representing different ideas. Symbolism found within the EEOB can tell us what the architects and designers hoped to express as well as give us information about the aspirations of the building occupants.
One notable trend between the two principal designers of the EEOB is that Alfred Mullett and Richard Ezdorf used common heraldic symbols to impart additional meaning to the interior. Since Ezdorfs work is visible in three of the four wings, some might think he was more prolific in his use of symbols than Mullett; however, Mulletts design work was limited to the interior of the south wing and is more subtle than Ezdorf. Had Mullett continued his role as the Supervising Architect of the Treasury, who can say what he would have done in the other wings? In the end, the selected motifs were particularly appropriate for the department libraries shown by the symbols and meanings outlined below
Room 308 The EOP Library formerly the State Department Library
Mulletts choice of decorative motifs for the library of the Department of State refers to the Departments enduring diplomacy, peacekeeping, and protective nature. Over time; however, the symbolism has been forgotten because the references are too subtle.
Berries: represent liberality, felicity, and peace (floor tiles)
Room 474 The Indian Treaty Room formerly the Navy Department Library
Motifs used by Ezdorf in the Navy Department library include overt nautical symbols to represent the Navy Departments occupancy of the room. Even the colored marble panels have special meaning.
Anchor: steadfastness (upper balcony walls and overmantle in room 274)
Room 528 The EOP Law Library formerly the War Department Library
For the War Departments library, Ezdorf reverts to decorative motifs whose symbolism has since been forgotten, but collectively represents a military might that sustains peace and safeguards the knowledge of antiquity.
Acorn: strength (cove ceiling)
Other symbols used in the building
Fasces: judicious authority (stair railing balusters)
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