work starts on RSHP's expanded international spy museum in washington DC

work starts on RSHP's expanded international spy museum in washington DC

work starts on RSHP’s expanded international spy museum in washington DC




construction work is underway in washington DC at the site of the capital’s new international spy museum (SPY). designed by rogers stirk harbour + partners (RSHP), the relocated and expanded institution is to be situated at l’enfant plaza — between the national mall and the southwest waterfront’s wharf. the scheme is intended to serve as a catalyst for the area’s regeneration. ‘the international spy museum has long been a destination for residents and visitors, finding innovative ways to keep us connected with our past,’ says district of columbia mayor muriel bowser. ‘the new museum will be a welcome addition to southwest as we continue to attract businesses and expand economic opportunity.’

museum circulation and spill-out exhibition space sit behind a folded glass veil
all images © rogers stirk harbour + partners




the malrite company and JBG collaborated on plans for the new 140,000-square-foot facility, which sits directly in front of the glass atrium on the plaza. in developing the project, RSHP will work alongside local practice hickok cole architects, who will be the project’s architect of record. the design includes a glass veil suspended in front of an enclosed exhibition space, referred to as the ‘black box’. as well as displaying the internal movement of people, contributing to new energy along the adjacent street, the veil and black box gestures convey the museum’s espionage-related themes. the building significantly expands both exhibit and educational space, and adds an intimate theater along with different event spaces.

behind the veil on the western façade




above a double-height lobby are two floors of event space, set-back from street level, with a roof terrace giving views across the city below. elevators are positioned at the back of the building, however visitors are able to exit the museum box into the atrium above street level, contributing life to the façade. the international spy museum continues to operate at its current location, showcasing the world’s largest collection of international espionage-related artifacts. the new building is expected to open spring, 2018.

façade detail color study model

detail of the glass-veiled façade at night

bay detail of the black box

concept diagrams

original concept sketches



project info:


date: 2015-ongoing
client: the malrite company
location: washington DC, USA
gross area: approx 110,000 sqf / 10,219 sqm


architect: rogers stirk harbour + partners (RSH+P)
co-architect: hickok cole architects
structural engineer: SK&A MD
landscape architect: michael vergason landscape architects ltd
client representative: the JBG companies
exhibition design: gallagher & associates
façade engineer: eckersley o’callaghan


RSH+P team: patricia andres, dennis austin, eleanora bressi, oliver colman, luca d’amico, kelly darlington, philip dennis, da feng, ivan harbour, daniel holmes, lennart grut, kinga koren, james leathem, steve martin, chris mcanneny, louise palomba, james stopps, marc tuitt







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