After nearly a year-and-a-half of planning, BIG has revealed its plans for the campus redesign, which includes renovations to the Smithsonian Castle, new entrances for the National Museum of African Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and improved access to the Freer Gallery of Art and to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Because the Sackler Gallery and the National Museum of African Art are located underground, beneath the Haupt Garden, the entrances to either museum are less noticeable than entrances to other museums. Ingels hopes to fix this by elevating the Haupt Garden at either corner to create angled entrances to the underground museums.
“It’s almost as if the spaces underground open up and reveal themselves to the garden and to the Mall,” Ingels says. Renovations will increase gallery space in the Sackler and African Art by 30 percent, and skylights will help bring more natural sunlight to the galleries. For Ingels, part of the project’s unique challenge was balancing innovation with respect for the architectural history of some of the Institution’s oldest buildings.
The south campus’ architecture truly spans nearly every segment in American architectural history, from the Victorian-era Arts and Industries Building to the Hirshhorn’s 1970s high Modernism. The crux of the redesign—and perhaps the first phase that will come to fruition—involves what Ingels calls “the gate to the Smithsonian Institution”—the Smithsonian Castle.
Ingels’ plan places the Castle front-and-center to a visitor’s Smithsonian experience, with expanded visitor services and amenities. The Castle will also undergo innovative seismic upgrades using base-isolation, which effectively places the entire structure on a tray resting on elastic point-foundations that absorb any seismic shock.
The base-isolation, while innovative and less intrusive than other methods, also affords the opportunity to dig under the Castle, expanding the underground space for amenities and revealing some of the building’s basement vaulted ceilings that have long been hidden from view. In forming their plan, BIG conducted interviews with directors of individual museums as well as caretakers of the public gardens.
The resulting plans, Ingels explains, are the result of a close dialogue with the Institution as well as those who would be most affected by potential change. “The project has gradually evolved and gotten better and better,” Ingels says. “Seen from the architect’s perspective, it’s an rewarding way of working because you can test a lot of ideas and you end up with something that is incredibly qualified.”
The renovations will also result in a 40 percent CO2 emission reduction, with a 34 percent energy savings translating to 53 percent cost savings. The project is estimated to cost around $2 billion, which will come from a mix of federal and private funds. Source by Smithsonian.
Location: 419 11th Street Northwest, Washington, USA
Partners In Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Thomas Christoffersen
Project Manager: Ziad Shehab
Project Leader: Daniel Kidd, Sean Franklin
Project Team: Suemin Jeon, Alana Goldweit, Cadence Bayley, Lina Bondarenko, Annette Miller, Otilia Pupezeanu, Choongyho Lee, Doug Stechschulte, Jeremy Alain Siegel, Alexandre Hamlyn, Julian Ocampo Salazar, Tammy Teng, Daisy Zhong
Collaborators: SurfaceDesign, Robert Silman Associates, GHT Limited, EHT Traceries, Stantec, Atelier Ten VJ Associates, Wiles Mensch, PE Group, FDS Design Studio, Kleinfelder
Area: 123,703 sqm
Year completion: 2034