THE ADMINISTRATION BUILDING.
BY popular verdict the ADMINISTRATION BUILDING is pronounced the gem and crown of the Exposition Buildings. It is located at the west end of the great court in the southern part of the site, looking eastward, and at its rear are the transportation facilities and depot. The object most conspicuous which will attract the gaze of visitors on reaching the grounds is the Gilded Dome of this great building. This great edifice cost about $550,000. The architect is RICHARD M. HUNT, of New York, President of the American Institute of Architects, to whose established reputation it is a notable contribution. It covers an area of 250 feet square and consists of four pavilions 84 feet square, one at each of the four angles of the square and connected by a great central dome 120 feet in diameter and 220 feet in height, leaving at the center of each facade, a recess 82 feet wide, within which are the grand entrances to the building. The general design is in the style of the French renaissance. The first great story is in the Doric order, of heroic proportions, surrounded by a lofty balustrade and having the great tiers of the angle of each pavilion crowned with sculpture. The second story, with its lofty and spacious colonnade, is of the Ionic order.
Externally the design may be divided in its height into three principal stages. The first stage consists of the four pavilions, corresponding in height with the various buildings grouped about it, which are about 65 feet high. The second stage, which is of the same height, is a continuation of the central rotunda, 175 feet square, surrounded on all sides by an open colonnade of noble proportions, 20 feet wide and 40 feet high, with columns 4 feet in diameter. This colonnade is reached by staircases and elevators from the four principal halls and is interrupted at the angles by corner pavilions, crowned with domes and groups of statuary. The third stage consists of the base of the great dome, 30 feet in height, and octagonal in form, and the dome itself. This great dome is gilded, and forms a fitting crown to the first and second stages of the magnificent edifice.
The four great entrances, one on each side of the building, are 50 feet wide and 50 feet high, deeply recessed and covered by semi-circular arched vaults, richly coffered. In the rear of these arches are the entrance doors, and above them great screens of glass, giving light to the central rotunda. Across the face of these screens, at the level of the office floor, are galleries of communication between the different pavilions.
The interior features of this great building even exceed in beauty and splendor those of the exterior. Between every two of the grand entrances, and connecting the intervening pavilion with the great rotunda, is a hall or loggia, 30 feet square, giving access to the offices and provided with broad, circular stairways and swift running elevators. Internally, the rotunda is octagonal in form, the first story being composed of eight enormous arched openings, corresponding in size to the arches of the great entrances. Above these arches is a frieze, 27 feet in width, the panels of which are filled with tablets, borne by figures carved in low relief and covered with commemorative inscriptions.
Above the balcony is the second story, 50 feet in height. From the top of the cornice of this story rises the interior dome, 290 feet from the floor, and in the center is an opening 50 feet in diameter, transmitting a flow of light from the exterior dome overhead. The under side of the dome is enriched with deep panelings, richly moulded, and the panels are filled with sculpture, in low relief, and immense paintings, representing the arts and sciences. In size this rotunda rivals, if it does not surpass, the most celebrated domes of a similar character in the world.
Each of the corner pavilions, which are four stories in height, is divided into large and small offices for the various Departments of the Administration, and lobbies and toilet rooms. The ground floor contains, in one pavilion, the Fire and Police Departments, with cells for the detention of prisoners; in a second pavilion are the offices of the Ambulance Service, the Physician and Pharmacy, the Foreign Department and the Information Bureau; in the third pavilion, the Post-Office and a Bank, and in the fourth the offices of Public Comfort and a restaurant. The second, third and fourth stories contain the Board rooms, the Committee rooms, the rooms of the Director-General, the Department of Publicity and Promotion, and of the United States Columbian Commission.