UPDATE: on january 12, 2021 it emerged that the new smithsonian administration had abandoned the expansion plan by bjarke ingels group, opting for a downsized version instead. ‘it’s simply the evolutionary process, me coming in and asking certain questions,’ smithsonian secretary lonnie g. bunch III told the washington post about the decision. the revised project — which calls for restoration of historic public interiors, castle exterior, comprehensive systems, and a central utility plant — will be introduced at a meeting with community leaders on january 13, and to the national capital planning commission on january 14, 2021. read more about BIG’s proposal in our previously published article from 2018 below.

 


 

bjarke ingels group (BIG) has presented a proposal for the smithsonian campus masterplan in washington, DC. plans for the major development were first unveiled in 2014, but have since been redeveloped following years of public consultation and close collaboration with the smithsonian institution. ‘the new proposal reflects the team’s commitment to preserving the intimate character of the treasured haupt garden, while addressing existing and future needs, at one of the most historically significant areas and cultural institutions in the nation’s capital,’ says BIG.

bjarke ingels group updates smithsonian campus masterplan for washington DC
the redesign seeks to preserve the existing character of the haupt garden
image by BIG (main image by BIG + brick)

 

 

BIG’s proposal has three primary objectives: to improve and expand visitor services and education; to create clear entrances and connections between the museums and gardens; and to replace aging building mechanical systems that have reached the end of their lifespan. importantly, the redesign seeks to preserve the existing character of the haupt garden, an important public setting that currently sits above sunken museum space below grade.

bjarke ingels group updates smithsonian campus masterplan for washington DC
the centerpiece of the masterplan remains the historic smithsonian castle
image by BIG + brick

 

 

in comparison to the previous proposal, the uplifted corners of the subterranean volume — designed to serve as welcoming entryways — have been reduced in scale. the centerpiece of the masterplan remains the smithsonian castle, which today serves as a visitor information center and the headquarters of the institution. the plan calls for a restoration of the historic great hall, which has been altered by partitions that cut its floor space almost in half, as well as the addition of an underground space for visitor services. see more images of the plans below, and find out more about the project here.

bjarke ingels group updates smithsonian campus masterplan for washington DC
a new haupt garden will be planted on top of the sunken museum space
image by BIG + brick

bjarke ingels group updates smithsonian campus masterplan for washington DC
the uplifted corners of the subterranean volume have been reduced in scale
image by BIG + brick

bjarke ingels group updates smithsonian campus masterplan for washington DC
the lifted corners have been designed to serve as welcoming entryways
image by BIG + brick

bjarke ingels group updates smithsonian campus masterplan for washington DC
subterranean spaces would be capable of hosting a wide range of events
image by BIG

BIG smithsonian campus masterplan
the basement of the castle would be used as exhibtion space
image by BIG

BIG smithsonian campus masterplan
glazing welcomes light into the subterranean visitor center
image by BIG + brick

BIG smithsonian campus masterplan
the proposed design for the hirshhorn’s sculpture garden
image by BIG + beauty & the bit

BIG smithsonian campus masterplan
the hirshhorn museum will expand underground to provide additional gallery space
image by BIG + beauty & the bit

BIG smithsonian campus masterplan
new recreational and dinging areas are also included as part of the plans
image by BIG + beauty & the bit

BIG smithsonian campus masterplan
the proposal seeks to create clear entrances and connections between the site’s museums and gardens
image by BIG + brick

BIG smithsonian campus masterplan
access points to the different museums will be more clearly defined
image by BIG + brick

BIG smithsonian campus masterplan
an aerial view of the site’s most recent proposal
image by BIG + brick

 

 

project info:

 

project: smithsonian institution south campus masterplan
year: 2014
type: commission
client: smithsonian institution
collaborators: surfacedesign, robert silman associates, ght limited, eht traceries, stantec, atelier ten vj associates, wiles mensch, pe group, fds design studio, kleinfelder
size: 123,703 sqm
location: washington DC, USA
status: in progress

 

partners in charge: bjarke ingels, thomas christoffersen, kai-uwe bergmann
project manager: ziad shehab, aran coakley
project leaders: daniel kidd, sean franklin
team: suemin jeon, alana goldvveit, cadence bayley, daniele pronesti, lina bondarenko, annette miller, otilia pupezeanu, choongyho lee, doug stechschulte, jeremy alain siegel, alexandre hamlyn, julian ocampo salazar, tammy teng, daisy zhong, aaron hales, chris falla, ola hariri, jenny shen, wesley chiang