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Smithsonian Exhibits Six Designs for New Museum Competition in DC
Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 |

Six visions of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture will be on display from 2 p.m. Friday, March 27, through Friday, April 3, in the Smithsonian Institution Building (the Castle), Washington, DC. The exhibition features design concepts, photographs and architectural models submitted by the six firms invited to participate in a two-month design competition.

In the weeks following the exhibit, a competition board, or jury, chaired by Museum Director Lonnie Bunch III, will select the firm that will present a formal proposal for the design of the museum. The name of the architectural team is scheduled to be announced in mid-April.

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The site for the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC

The museum will be located on a five-acre plot of land adjacent to the Washington Monument on Constitution Avenue. Construction is expected to begin in 2012, and the museum will open to the public in 2015. Total cost for the project, including design and construction, is estimated at about $500 million, of which one-half will be provided by Congress.

“This design competition captured the attention of some of the most respected professionals in the field,” said Bunch. “Seeing the early results of their work has been inspiring and being able to share it now with the public is a genuine honor. This is an exciting moment in the development of this museum.”

The six firms represented in the exhibit were among 22 that responded to a Request for Qualifications issued last summer. An evaluation panel of experts from the Smithsonian, including engineers, architects and museum professionals conducted a technical review of all submissions to be certain that they met the qualifications of the RFQ—having key personnel in a variety of areas such as architecture, structural engineering, landscape architecture and life safety engineering; being able to accomplish the design of the building within the three-year time frame; establishing an office within 30 miles of the museum site; and demonstrating an appreciation of African American history and culture.

In addition, the Smithsonian is requiring an energy-efficient structure that may become the Smithsonian’s first museum to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, making it the first officially green building on the National Mall.

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Plan of the National Mall in Washington DC

All six firms have won national and international awards; three are winners of the American Institute of Architect’s Gold Medal—the AIA’s highest honor for design—and two have been awarded Pritzker Prizes. All teams have a minority principal and four firms are members of the National Organization of Minority Architects.

The design competition teams (in alphabetical order) are:

  • Devrouax & Purnell Architects/Planners, P.C, and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects, LLP—a joint venture. Devrouax & Purnell, led by Marshall Purnell, recently completed the Washington Convention Center and the Washington Nationals Park baseball stadium. Among the best known projects of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners are the East Building of the National Gallery of Art and the Holocaust Memorial Museum, both in Washington, D.C ., and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro in association with KlingStubbins—Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio and Charles Renfro will serve as architect and KlingStubbins will serve as associate architect. Diller Scofidio + Renfro was the architect for the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and for the renovation and expansion of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, including the Juilliard School and the School of American Ballet.
  • Foster + Partners/URS joint venture—these two firms have collaborated for the past five years on a variety of projects in the United States and Europe. Foster + Partners of London, led by chairman and founder Norman Foster, will serve as architect and URS will be the engineering design firm. Foster recently designed the Kogod Courtyard in the Smithsonian’s Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, redesigned the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Dallas Center for Performing Arts.
  • Freelon Adjaye Bond in association with SmithGroup—Three firms have joined together for this project—the Freelon Group, Adjaye Associates and Davis Brody Bond. The Freelon Group designed the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture in Baltimore. David Adjaye was the architect of the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. The SmithGroup designed the Normandy American Cemetery Interpretive Center in France.
  • Moody Nolan Inc. in association with Antoine Predock Architect PC—Moody Nolan, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, will be the architect of record. The Moody Nolan and Predock team designed the Ohio State University Recreation and Physical Activity Center in Columbus, Ohio. Architect Antoine Predock of Albuquerque, New Mexico, designed the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and the expansion of the Tacoma Art Museum in Washington and the National Palace Museum in Taiwan. Curtis J. Moody and Antoine Predock will be the lead designers.
  • Moshe Safdie and Associates Inc. in association with Sulton Campbell Britt & Associates, Baltimore—Moshe Safdie will be the lead architect. He has designed the U.S. Institute of Peace headquarters now under construction in Washington, D.C.; the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa; the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts; and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.


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