Then and Now – The Legislatura Building
Posted by BCS on October 28, 2008
The Legislative Building
The Second Regular Session of the Seventh Legislature was formally opened on July 16, 1926 in the Legislative Building at the corner of Taft Avenue and P. Burgos Drive. Originally intended for the National Library, the Legislative Building was part of the “Capitoline structure,” an impressive design in neo-classical architecture for a government center made by David H. Burnham, foremost American city planner of his day. Of Bumham’s grand plan, only three buildings were finally constructed – the Finance Building, the Agriculture Building, and the Legislative Building (formerly National Library). The Burnham plan was doomed when the late President Manuel L. Quezon unveiled his plan for a new capital city, named Quezon City, outside Manila.
The building, which occupies an entire triangular block, was started early in the 1920’s. Work on it was sporadic, however, and it was finished in 1926 at a cost of P4 million. Only half-finished, the lawmakers decided to use its session halls. The National Library was allowed to occupy the basement. The House of Representatives occupied the second floor continuously for 19 years until 1945, when the liberation forces bombed and shelled the building where the Japanese troops had made one of their last stands in Manila. Except for the central portion, the structure was beyond repair.
The Former Japanese Schoolhouse
With the Legislative Building reduced to rubble, old Japanese schoolhouse at the corner of P. Paredes and Lepanto Streets near Azcarraga (now C.M. Recto Avenue). In this wooden three-storey structure, the legislative functions continued until 1949, when part of the Legislative Building on P. Burgos-Taft Avenue was completed and readied for occupancy.
The War-Damaged Legislative Building
Reconstruction of the war-damaged Legislative Building started in 1949. The Congress moved in the same year while the wings were being reconstructed. Work on the two wings was completed in 1950.
The edifice was rebuilt entirely from memory, with the aid of a blueprint without measurements which had providentially been kept by the sculptor Tampingco. The architects of the Bureau of Public Works declared that the reconstructed building is a replica of the original, except that it is less ornate. The rest of the building was modified according to the expanding needs of the Congressmen. Mezzanines were added and offices rebuilt according to their occupants’ specifications. Two annexes on the first floor had been added to the wings.
Said legislative building of the old Congress is currently known as the Executive House. It is the permanent home of the Metropolitan National Museum where national artifacts and treasures are kept and displayed. Its fourth floor was temporarily used by the Senate for their plenary sessions until the Senate transferred to the Government Services Insurance System (GSIS) Complex on Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City last May 1997.
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