A Setting for Diplomacy
The Treaty Room suite is a sequence of seven rooms that serve as the formal entrance to the offices of the secretary of state. At the center is the Treaty Room itself, where the secretary of state and top diplomats negotiate and sign treaties with their counterparts from around the world. For such a function, the architect Allan Greenberg drew on the architecture of ancient Rome and the Italian Renaissance to evoke democratic ideals.
The Treaty Room is elliptical in form. Its dramatic curved walls are supported by Corinthian columns adorned with the Great Seal of the United States. The woodwork in the room features hand-carved leaves, blossoms, and seedpods of North American flora that were inspired by Benjamin Henry Latrobe’s architectural designs for the U.S. Capitol Building. Set into the walls are cabinets that resemble the framing of windows in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the late 17th century. The only piece of furniture permanently in the room is a curved table of mahogany made specifically for this space and for the treaty signing ceremonies that take place here.
The focal point of the room is the inlaid floor, a pattern of stained maple, ebony, and mahogany that is derived from Michelangelo’s design for the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome, the forecourt of the Roman Senate at the top of the Capitoline Hill. Comprised of radiating diamond geometry, the design is a brilliant adaptation of the circle-and-square that was used in Renaissance art to create a sense of harmony and order. At its center is a twelve-pointed star, the Caput Mundi (Latin for “head of the world”), a symbol of civic optimism and the potential of all people for greatness and reason.
- Carved leaves, blossoms, and seedpods of North American flora were inspired by Benjamin Henry Latrobe’s designs for the U.S. Capitol Building.
- Corinthian columns adorned with the Great Seal of the United States surround the Treaty Room.
- The architect’s rendering for the decorative column capitals.