U.S. Army Brigader General Brehon B. Somervell, head of construction for the Department of War, ordered Lt. Col Hugh Casey and architect George Bergstrom to his office. Somervell told the 2 men he wanted them to develop plans for building to house the Department of War, to be located in or around Washington DC. The building specs were: it must be air conditioned, provide office space for approximately 40,000 personnel, be not more than 4 stories tall, nor greater than 4 million square feet, and it must be without elevators.
General Somerville then ordered the plans and an architectural perspective be on his desk not later than Monday. Casey and Bergstrom delivered. The Secretary of War approved the plans Tuesday and notified the President, while Somerville went hat in hand to Congress.
Plans were tweaked, but basically unaltered, a floor added and a site settled on during the next several weeks. Construction began September 11, 1941.