Friday, February 20, 2009

Designing the Mall's Next Museum

Smithsonian design competition, National Museum of African American history, Moshe Safdie, Moody NolanDCmud has obtained a list of architects now vying to design the newest addition to the Mall, and to the Smithsonian's downtown repertoire - the National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC), a 350,000 square foot edifice slated for construction at 15th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW. According to Museum Director Lonnie Bunch, Washington DC's newest museum will "help all Americans see just how central African American history is for all of us." Smithsonian design competition, National Museum of African American history, Moshe Safdie, Moody Nolan, National Mall

At present, there is no shortage of architects willing to take a shot at designing for what is, essentially, one the last "vacant" parcels abutting the National Mall - and also one of the closest to the Washington Monument. Current bidders on the $300 million project include Diller Scofidio and Renfro, Devrouax and Purnell Architects, Moshe Safdie and Associates, The Freelon Group, Pei Cobb Freed and Partners, Foster and Partners and Moody Nolan Inc. There is no word on when a final selection will be made, but construction is currently slated to begin in February (which also happens to be Black History Month) 2012.

Those interested in scoping out the NMAAHC’s exhibits in 2009, however, will have to hit the road; the museum’s inaugural exhibition, Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits, will travel the country until work on its permanent exhibition space is complete. The collection is currently on display in Detroit, with future bookings planned for San Francisco, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chicago and Cincinnati all the way through 2011.

The museum was made possible by legislation signed into law by President George W. Bush in December 2003. The same act charted the museum under the umbrella of the Smithsonian Institution, and it was that body’s Board of Regents that selected the 5-acre site bounded by Constitution Avenue, Madison Drive and 14th and 15th Streets, NW to be home of the first national museum “devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life.” Having already completed a preliminary Environmental Impact analysis, the Smithsonian is currently undertaking what it labels as the “architectural programming phase” of development, during which the space and system requirements integral to a fully functioning public institution, such as the NMAAHC, will be established, and then relayed to the prospective architects for inclusion in their designs.

Washington DC real estate development news


Anonymous said...

While this museum certainly is needed, does it need to go on the Mall? It's already overcrowded. DC needs a Mall Annex.

Anonymous said...

This museum should be canceled. If there is an african american museum then shouldn't there be a hispanic museum, an irish museum, an asian american museum, a womens museum etc. My point is that there are many groups that have suffered in making this country what it is and we can't have a museum for every group. It is too expensive, it divides us as a country, and only accentuates old wounds. Why not have it all part of the American Museum of History?

Anonymous said...

Terrible idea. This museum should be rolled into the Malls' museums that already exist, specifically the American History Museum.

This museum is not needed.

Anonymous said...

Shame on Congress for not having the backbone to stand up to the people and say no. We should not support ethnic separatists, nor junk up the mall with yet more trash, especially when Congress says we can't afford to take care of what's there, and we have to rely on (insufficient) private donations to keep it from falling apart.

Anonymous said...

Devrouax and Purnell are really bad architcts who normally team up with well known designers and ride their coattails. From what I hear they don't pull their weight on teams and should not be considered for the design.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry; I hear that in 50 years white people will be a minority in the US when totaled against all other ethnicities. We'll get our own museum then!

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