The Commerce Department is undertaking a comprehensive renovation of its main building at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. The three-step program will be the prototype for federal agencies, the department said, because it will be an alternative to piecemeal remodeling done without regard for the future.

The project was developed by Louise Wiener, special assistant to the Commerce Special assistant to the Commerce Secretary for cultural resources. It is being directed by Nicholas Chaparos, of the National Endowment for the Arts' design information and education program.

Outside experts in such fields as lighting, interior design and graphics were consulted, along with department employes. The goal is to restore a building's integrity of style," not just modernize the hell out of it," said one observer.

The three-step approach approved for Commerce includes cleaning of public spaces. Extraneous fixtures and equipment that obscure its originial Beaux Arts style of architecture are to be removed. New furniture and exhibits will be put in place and the building will be retrofited with equipment to make it more energy-efficient.

In the main lobby, plans call for lightening the marble walls and floors, removing unsightly signs and creating display windows in alcoves of each side of the main entrance to permit three-dimentional displays. Also planned are oblong-island seating arrangements and fresh flower urns, and relocation of the security office and job information center.

In the Great Hall - show in the rendering above in its planned state and below as it currently looks - the bookstore will be removed, along with existing offices and raised floor. The chandeliers will be restored and refitted with new low-wattage bulbs. Exhibits will be placed around the hall.

In the corridors, sections of walls will be removed to let in the daylight from the courtyard.