LOCATION: Washingon, DC
PROJECT SIZE: 313,000 SQ FT
PROJECT COST: $500,000,000
In April of 2009 following an international design competition, the team of Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup (FAB/S) was selected by the Smithsonian Institution as the designers for the National Museum of African American History and Culture to be located on the Mall in Washington, DC. With our winning competition entry as a point of departure, the FAB/S team is exploring alternatives that further develop the design ideas articulated by the competition scheme.
The primary architectural idea for the museum is the crown or corona form. Reaching toward the sky, the bronze clad corona expresses faith, hope and resiliency. Internal to the building, the corona forms a perimeter zone which surrounds the primary galleries. Daylight enters this zone through patterned openings in the bronze cladding and through skylights. At night, the corona glows, presenting stunning views of the museum from a variety of vantage points in and around the Mall.
Below the corona, visitors enter the museum through a grand “porch” at south (National Mall) side of the building while a secondary entrance is provided on the north (Constitution Ave.) side. The landscape is an integral part of the threshold experience, establishing the site as a critical component of the design while providing perimeter security and sustainable storm water management. The Central Hall is the primary public space within the building and the point of orientation to the museum’s offerings. As visitors move through this generous space which includes a dynamic multi-media display, the cafe and museum shop are easily accessible. Softly lit wooden planks form the ceiling of the Central Hall – a space which is intended to be captivation and inspiring.
Sustainability is a primary consideration as the design team moves from the initial concept through the development of the schematic design. When completed, the new NMAAHC will stand as a demonstration of best practices in environmental design. While the specific stories of persecution and struggle, resiliency and triumph will be presented in the museum’s exhibits, the building itself will stand as a powerful testament to the centrality and relevance of African American culture and history.
Project Team: Freelon Adjaye Bond / SmithGroup
Renderings: Imaging Atelier