The Smithsonian Institution has announced that the glass-clad pyramid restaurant of Washington D.C's National Air and Space Museum, designed by Gyo Obata, FAIA, co-founder of renowned architecture firm HOK, will be demolished this spring and replaced with a new educational facility titled the Bezos Learning Center. The restaurant is one of two buildings designed by the late architect for the National Mall, originally constructed in 1988 as an additional structure to the National Air and Space Museum, that served as a dining area for the museum's visitors.
The announcement was made by Smithsonian representatives to members of the National Capital Planning Commission and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA). Although the museum is one of the most visited in the United States, the restaurant has been closed since 2017, without any protection or maintenance.
The project's replacement, the Bezos Learning Center is set to be a $130 million, 50,000-square-foot project comprising three storeys. Its name pays tribute to a $200 million donation made by founder and executive chairman of Amazon and founder of the space flight company Blue Origin Jeff Bezos. Described as a "world-class educational center" by the Institution, the project will feature educational programs and activities in the fields of innovation, technology, engineering, arts, and science. The project will also include a restaurant on the ground floor, two floors for the programs, and a rooftop terrace that overlooks the National Mall and the U.S. Capitol.
Related ArticleGyo Obata, Founding Partner at HOK, Passes Away at 99
Since no architect has been assigned yet to design the new learning center, the Smithsonian issued an open call for architects in January and February, aiming to name an architect by the end of this year. At the moment, the Air and Space Museum is closed for renovation since it is "a significant historic building designed without precedent for housing a nationally important collection of artifacts documenting the history of flight and space travel, and represents the work of a recognized master in architecture" as claimed by Carly Bond, a historic preservation specialist for the Smithsonian, unlike the glass pavilion which deemed to be "non-contributing to the historic significance" after evaluation.
On March 8th of this year, architecture firm HOK announced that the architect has passed away at the age of 99. The firm accompanied the announcement with a tribute of the architect's legacy, and highlighted his holistic approach which "helped drive HOK’s ongoing expansion into new specialty practices, market sectors and geographic regions".
News via National Capital Planning Commission