BIG commissioned to rethink the historic smithsonian BIG commissioned to rethink the historic smithsonian
feb 27, 2013

BIG commissioned to rethink the historic smithsonian

BIG architects to renovate the smithsonian institutionimage © dennis brack/ bloomberg news




internationally acclaimed danish practice BIG architects have won a 12-14 month contract – 2.4 million dollars – to draft the first phase of the historic smithsonian institution‘s re-design on its washington DC’s campus. bjarke ingels, having quickly gained attention around the globe for his unique contemporary designs and progressive solutions, will give the antiquated buildings a much needed revival.


the renovation will not just include an aesthetic re-envisionment of the existing structures; while it is true that the collection of buildings – the castle, arts and industries building, hirshhorn museum and sculpture garden, mary livingston ripley garden, quadrangle building, national museum of african art, sackler gallery, dillon ripley center and freer gallery – are in fact in need of restoration, the master plan calls for a more integrated approach that will completely change how the smithsonian is experienced on a variety of levels and its role within the immediate and larger community. while it is yet unclear as to whether or not the project will be realized, and to what extent, it will mark one more BIG influence in the united states amongst a growing repertoire of american projects.

renwick centerimage © ron blunt, courtesy of smithsonian institution

project architect bjarke ingelsimage © designboom

  • I sincerely hope that any reimagining of the Smithsonian is internal. The “Purple Castle” is an iconic Smithsonian structure, as are the Hirshorn, the Freer and the natural History museums. While I agree the environmental systems, egress, food services and probably office and research spaces need modernization, please do jt mess with the exteriors of these iconic buildings.

    Karen says:
  • Lets not do this and forget we ever heard about it.

    Ron Smith says:

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