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Smithsonian: The Latest Architecture and News

Hiroshi Sugimoto Designs New Sculpture Garden for the Hirshhorn Museum

The Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum sculpture garden will be renovated for the first time since the 1980s by Japanese artist and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto. Currently featuring works by Auguste Rodin, Jimmie Durham, and Yoko Ono, the sculpture garden will be opened up to the National Mall and create space for large-scale contemporary works and performances. The new concept aims to raise visibility for the garden and welcome more visitors to the museum.

David Adjaye Honored with 2018 Louis Kahn Memorial Award

British architect Sir David Adjaye, Founding Principal of Adjaye Associates, will be honored as this year’s recipient of the Louis I. Kahn Memorial Award by the Center for Architecture and Design in Philadelphia. The annual award celebrates the achievements of an individual who has made a significant contribution to the field of architecture, while also celebrating the achievements of influential Philadelphia-based architect Louis Kahn.

Past recipients of the award have included Bjarke Ingels, Norman Foster, Peter Bohlin, Daniel Libeskind, Robert A.M. Stern, Rafael Viñoly and César Pelli.

Fine Arts Commission on BIG's Smithsonian Plans: "It's Not Good Design"

Despite 3 years of community input and redesign, BIG’s plans for the new Smithsonian Institution Campus Master Plan in Washington, D.C., has been met with skepticism from the Commission of Fine Arts, one of the two federal agencies charged with approving the plan.

Parallax Gap - American Architecture Celebrated on Smithsonian Gallery Ceilings

Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt
Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

Art is not confined to gallery walls. The concept of art displayed on ceilings stretches back to the Renaissance, perhaps most notably the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo. The Renaissance tradition of Trompel’oeil ceilings went further, using an illusionary depth of perspective to depict a volume which doesn’t exist; be it a dome that was never built or an attic filled with angels.

Four hundred years later, New York and Los Angeles-based architecture firm FreelandBuck has elevated the concept with its upcoming installation ‘Parallax Gap’, which has been selected by the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum as the winning entry in a competition entitled ‘ABOVE the Renwick’. From July 2017 to February 2018, the 2,500sqft canopy will be suspended from the ceiling of the Renwick’s largest room, the Bettie Rubenstein Grand Salon, depicting an abstract catalog of American architectural icons.

Courtesy of Kevin KunstadtCourtesy of Kevin KunstadtCourtesy of Kevin KunstadtCourtesy of Kevin Kunstadt+ 17

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture Photographed by Brad Feinknopf


After its opening in September last year, the now completed Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture can be seen in full swing, thanks to this new photoset taken by photographer Brad Feinknopf. Designed by Freelon Adjaye Bond / SmithGroup JJR (a collaboration which included Perkins + Will's Phil Freelon, David Adjaye from Adjaye Associates, Davis Brody Bond, and SmithGroup JJR), the 420,000 square foot building houses numerous galleries and collections, as well as a theater. Maintaining a strong connection to America’s engrained African history and roots through its bronze filigree envelope, the museum asserts a subtle presence in the landscape, coexisting alongside the Washington Monument and National Museum of American History.

© Brad Feinknopf© Brad Feinknopf© Brad Feinknopf© Brad Feinknopf+ 58

Gallery: David Adjaye's National Museum of African American History and Culture Photographed by Paul Clemence

Photographer Paul Clemence of ARCHI-PHOTO has shared with us images of Adjaye Associates' nearly-completed Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The building draws inspiration from the nearby Washington Monument, mirroring the 17-degree angle of its capstone in the museum’s tiered corona. Adjaye has described the building’s ornamental bronze lattice as “a historical reference to African American craftsmanship.” The skin can also be modulated to control the transparency and amount of sunlight reaching the interior spaces. The building will open to the public on September 24, 2016.

Continue on for Clemence’s full photoset.

© Paul Clemence© Paul Clemence© Paul Clemence© Paul Clemence+ 34

David Adjaye: "Architecture Cannot be Autonomous"

"I believe that for architecture to be emotionally relevant to people, that there has to be a connection, [that] there has to be a relationship, that architecture cannot be autonomous. If it's not connected to the lives of people, the histories of people, I think there's a problem." In a recent interview with Aljazeera's Lisa Fletcher, British architect David Adjaye discusses his recent work and how the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History will serve as a "negotiator" on racial tension in the US. Read the full interview, here

London’s “Olympicopolis” Aims to Host Smithsonian’s First International Venue

The Smithsonian is considering opening its first international exhibition space in “Olympicopolis” - London’s former Olympic park that is to be transformed into a world-class cultural hub by 2021. Should the self-financed proposal be approved, it will be the first time in the institution’s 168-year history to build a public venue outside of the United States.

“We see this as an unprecedented opportunity to show the breadth of the Smithsonian in one of the most diverse cities in the world,” stated Smithsonian acting secretary Al Horvath.

London Announces Design Competition for 'Olympicopolis' Site

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has announced a new competition for the designs of a cultural quarter next to the 2012 Olympic park. The site has been dubbed 'Olympicopolis', and so far has expressions of interest from University College London, University of the Arts London, the V&A, Sadler's Wells Theatre and now possibly - according to the Guardian - Washington DC's Smithsonian.

Read on after the break for more details of the competition

Smithsonian Hires BIG to Rethink Historic D.C. Campus

The Smithsonian Institution has commissioned the innovative practice of Bjarke Ingles to reimagine the heart of its antiquated Washington D.C. campus. The Danish architect has agreed to an eight- to 12- month, $2.4 million contract to draft the first phase of a master plan that seeks to dissolve the notable impediments and discontinuous pathways that plagues the area.

More on this news after the break...

Update: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

© Adjaye Associates
© Adjaye Associates

We have been covering the progress of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture over the last several months, our most recent being President Obama’s speech at the ceremony for the official ground breaking. Adjaye Associates recently shared with us some insight into the inspiration for the design and its grounding principles. We also have several new perspective renders illustrating the internal experience. More details after the break.

© Adjaye Associates© Adjaye Associates© Adjaye Associates© Adjaye Associates+ 10

Obama speaks at the ground breaking ceremony for the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Freelon Adjaye Bond/Smith Group
Freelon Adjaye Bond/Smith Group

President Obama attended the official ground breaking ceremony of the National Museum for African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) on February 22, commemorating this milestone for the Smithsonian Institution’s new museum on Washington’s National Mall. The Tanzanian-born, London-based architect David Adjaye serves as Lead Designer for the Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup (FAB) team that was selected by the Smithsonian Institute back in 2009 in the international competition for the design of the nation’s new prestigious building.

The President began his brief remarks by stating, “As others have mentioned, this day has been a long time coming. The idea for a museum dedicated to African Americans was first put forward by black veterans of the Civil War. And years later, the call was picked up by members of the civil rights generation -– by men and women who knew how to fight for what was right and strive for what is just. This is their day. This is your day. It’s an honor to be here to see the fruit of your labor.”

Continue reading for more information on the project and a video of President Obama’s speech.