Monday, March 30, 2009

Designs Unveiled for New Smithsonian Museum

The Smithsonian has revealed (via the first prospective designs for the Mall’s next museum: the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. And from the looks of things, it’s going to be the grandest one yet; proposals for the 350,000 square foot museum within earshot of the Washington Monument range from glass-encased and “table-shaped” to almost pre-historic with natural materials “rising as of out of bedrock and muck.”

Last week’s presentations at the Smithsonian included new renderings and scale models by the development teams previously identified by DCmud: Diller Scofidio and Renfro (now teamed with KlingStubbins); Devrouax and Purnell Architects/Pei Cobb Freed and Partners; Moshe Safdie and Associates (now teamed with Sulton Campbell Britt & Associates), The Freelon Group (now teamed with Adjaye Associates and Davis Brody Bond), Foster and Partners (now teamed with URS) and Moody Nolan Inc (now teamed with Antoine Predock Architect).

Among the new revelations unveiled along with the designs were that the project’s budget, formerly reported at $300 million, which has now almost doubled to $500 million – half of which will be funded through a Congressional appropriation. The Smithsonian is also now projecting a 2015 opening for the museum, following the previously projected 2012 construction start date.

Once completed, the Museum will stand on a five-acre parcel at 15th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW – one of the very last prime plots abutting the National Mall. A final selection on the Smithsonian’s choice of architect will be announced by a Smithsonian-chosen 11-member panel next month, to be seconded (or not) by a final approval by the Smithsonian Board of Regents. The final design will then enter into lengthy submission processes with both the Commission on Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission.

Both interior and exterior renderings of the proposed designs are available here.


monkeyrotica on Mar 31, 2009, 8:33:00 AM said...


Honestly, I'd rather look at brutalism than these fugly christmas tree ornaments.

Anonymous said...

Looks great! Very elegant. However, what does that have to do with African American history?

monkeyrotica on Mar 31, 2009, 1:52:00 PM said...

Absolutely nothing?

Anonymous said...

finally someone is going to break the "blah architecture streak of washington dc!" this will begin to open up doors i tell ya...

A-lo on Mar 31, 2009, 5:00:00 PM said...

I actually like some of these designs, especially the Richard Rogers one. No columns or marble please.

Anonymous said...

This image is the pinnacle of wasteful and disrespectful design. The subject deserves a true level of dignity, stateliness, and timelessness that can not be achieved with "design of the month" concepts like this. This is truly absurd and scornful. Is there even one architect still alive who can design a real museum?

Anonymous said...

Its one thing if these buildings were proposed for an obscure corner of the Mall, but this is basically the corner of Park Place and Boardwalk. None of these designs rises to the occasion and all will look dated and obsolote in a decade. Lets hope the Fine Arts commission will place pressure where needed to elevate the final design to a new level.

JUST SAY NO! said...


First, this space is the ONLY remaining vista from which one can see the Washington Monument unobstructed from Constitution Avenue and 14th/15th when driving in and out of town. DON'T BLOCK THE VIEW!

Second, NO ONE WILL GO TO THE MUSEUM! Sorry, but we already have an African American museum on the Mall. And nobody goes to it! Why build another?

Before the Native-American Museum was built, I knew that EVERY racial pressure group would be gunning for their own "race-based" museum. The Latino groups are already pushing for a museum of their own, and I guess the Asian groups will be too. But we already have an Asian museum -- it's adjacent to the existing African American museum.

Let's forget this nonsense and put these race-based museums IN the AMERICAN HISTORY Museum. We're all Americans. No need to separate.

Has anyone been to the Native American museum lately? It's a bunch of empty space inside; pretty boring. It doesn't come close to what you get at the Cody, Wyoming museums or any other Native history museum I've been to throughout the country. After a boring tour of that waste of space, we should seriously reconsider this monstrosity.

Anonymous said...

The proposal from Freelon Adjaye Bond / SmithGroup is the most compelling choice and direction as it is clearly intended to be a museum and not simply an overpriced sculpture. It needs to be said that as sculpture the other designs are wanting anyway so what is the point to them?

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