Friday, September 03, 2010

Smithsonian's New Museum of African American History and Culture Unveils Latest Design Changes


Awarded the rights to design the Museum of African American History and Culture by the Smithsonian back in April of 2009, a Smithsonian presenter and team of architects from Freelon, Adjaye Associates, and Davis Brody Bond unveiled the newest plans for the National Mall's next museum yesterday. Responding to initial concerns about the large size of the building and it's impact on the views of the Washington Monument and surrounding Mall, the team presented their augmented designs - lowered, and shifted back - to the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC). This is the first of many give and take meetings that will play out before the building is finally built and opened in November of 2015. Next stop: the Commission of Fine Arts will review the newest concept design, final approval on the design will not come until 2012.

The three tiers (the "Corona") of bronze, porous, pumice-stone-like material still form the bulk of the structure. What was originally a large base of the building, the "Porch," has been mostly pushed below grade so only the top pierces ground level, a concession to the prominence of Washington's Monument. The raised platform will retain its mezzanine functionality as a place to install skylights to illuminate below grade programming. Planners are proposing to mound the earth around the structure to replicate the sloping dimensions of the neighboring Monument grounds.

Overall, the building's footprint and profile have been reduced, and adjusted slightly to the south, to diminish the perceived brutish visual intrusion of the building as initially rendered. Although the designers admit that this new position shifts the building a bit offline from the center alignment of existing museums, the changes were made to create a less obtrusive structure, and allow more open sight lines to and pleasantly framed views of the Washington Monument from Constitution Avenue.

Initial renderings showed the Porch rising high above ground
Revisions on technical matters - security, landscaping, loading and docks - will continue, but the Commission had approved previous conceptual designs, and no comments from the NCPC panel appeared likely to derail the overall concept. But persisting complaints highlighted the difficulties that lay ahead for this design team. A long road to appease a plethora of the different guard dog and policy making entities awaits: DDOT, National Park Service, NCPC, the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts, Office of Planning, and more. One panelist commended the design team for both their efforts at middle ground and their endeavor to blend a modern design into the setting of the Mall. "I sympathize greatly with the design team...With all of their demands, it seems a lot of my colleagues seem to want to you build a building that is invisible." With that being unlikely, the design may well retain the form presented at yesterday's unveiling. Another interesting reaction was that of Commission member Herbert F. Ames, who after applauding the design team, slammed down his fist and implored Congress (who I'm pretty sure wasn't in the room) to put a stop to any new projects set for the National Mall. "We're going to ruin a national treasure," he said, "the Mall was full years ago, and the Mall is full now."

Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

What an UGLY monstrosity! How can anyone fathom putting this ugly thing in the middle of the National Mall!?!

I can't believe this is even a real discussion. Where is the NPS to put an end to the nonsense?

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with Anon above. I thought we were done with the brutalist era. If this gets built, it will be put in the same illustrious company as J. Edgar Hoover building as worst buildings in DC. Although this one may be worse given the location.

Anonymous said...

It's not brutalist ("beton brut" referred to unfinished concrete) and it is going to be beautiful. Try to have a little faith. The people working on this are true designers, who can respond to actual needs with imagination and skill, not egotists trying to build monuments to themselves.

Anonymous said...

No, this thing is UGLY. Why is it that when architects get into a "marque" project like this, they feel the need to make a "statement?" The architectural style stands in stark contrast to the buildings nearby, particularly the White House.

Anonymous said...

No, this thing is UGLY. Why is it that when architects get into a "marque" project like this, they feel the need to make a "statement?" The architectural style stands in stark contrast to the buildings nearby, particularly the White House.

Anonymous said...

No, this thing is UGLY. Why is it that when architects get into a "marque" project like this, they feel the need to make a "statement?" The architectural style stands in stark contrast to the buildings nearby, particularly the White House.

Anonymous said...

We're putting a GOLD, SPARKLING CASINO in the middle of the Mall!

Can we get some neon lights on it as well???!!

 

DCmud - The Urban Real Estate Digest of Washington DC Copyright © 2008 Black Brown Pop Template by Ipiet's Blogger Template