The Administration Building

Balboa14.jpg (197392 bytes)

The exterior of the Administration Building nearing completion ...   Albrook Field was still a swamp and  Ancon Cemetery had yet to be moved to its new location at Corozal to make way for the new houses ... Miraflores Locks is visible in the distance.

First architect ... Austin W. Lord, head of the department of architecture at Columbia University and a senior member of the firm of Lord, Hewlett and Tallant of New York. July, 1912 - The agreement was that he would work out a general scheme in which all of the buildings "from Toro Point to Taboga Island would be of a prevailing style."

Lord's direct involvement with the ICC apparently terminated in 1913, but not before he had developed the plans for the Administration Building (the style he chose for the Admin Bldg: Italian Renaissance), the layout and design for the Prado-type quarters and terminal buildings of the town of Balboa, and the plans for the hydro-electric station at Gatun, as well as the three locks control houses.

With Lord out of the picture, his assistant at Culebra, Mario J. Schiavoni, was given the title of architect.  Goethals brought Albert Pauley, the developer of a new process for making concrete tile blocks, to the Isthmus to oversee the erection of a plant to manufacture the blocks for all the permanent buildings in Balboa.

On July 15, 1914 ... a little more than a year from the day the first steel beam was erected, the Administration Building had its first occupants. The time-keepers offices at Culebra, Balboa and Cristobal were assigned one large room extending from the rotunda to the west end of the building on the first floor. All the heavy construction work had been completed at that point, but the 50 employees who were paid in gold and the complement of clerks and messengers who received their wages in silver moved in amidst the sawing, hammering, mortaring and painting that accompanied the laying of the pine flooring, the red tile in the corridors, and the mosaic tile in the rotunda, and the finishing up of the carpentry work and electrical wiring. No landscaping would be done until the following December, so outside the building the grounds were a gigantic mudhole. Temporary wooden steps led downhill to the Prado level, where by June of 1915, the houses had been completed and construction on Barnebey Street begun.

The third and final architect of the Administration Building was Samuel M. Hitt.

October 11, 1999