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Wilbur Joseph Cohen Federal Building

Originally constructed as and called the Social Security Building, it was renamed in 1988 for Wilbur Joseph Cohen (1913-1987), a government official and public affairs educator. Cohen had a long career in government, working in 1934-35 at the Committee for Economic Security, then moving to the Social Security Administration where he stayed until 1956. Except for brief periods in academia, he continued government work at HEW until 1969, when he returned to teaching. He was the author of numerous books and articles on social security, social policy issues, and the New Deal. The building currently is known as the Health & Human Services Building.

Charles Z. Klauder was selected as consulting architect for the Social Security Building, and the design was his. With his practice based in Philadelphia, Klauder's chief reputation was as a designer of educational building, particularly in the Gothic style. Probably his best known building is the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh begun in 1928, an Art Deco skyscraper in Gothic clothing. Klauder's skill in melding modernistic forms with historical references is well illustrated in the exterior of the Social Security and Railroad Retirement Buildings, which were his last buildings. In them he combined highly abstract, blocky massing with simplified Egyptian motifs. Charles Z. Klauder died on October 30, 1938, two years before construction of the Social Security Building was completed.

An interesting note is that Charles Z. Klauder was a judge in a 1923 Trenton Masonic Temple design competition open only to architects that were also members of the Masonic order.

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