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Washington D.C.: The Latest Architecture and News

Studio Gang's "Hive" Opens at the National Building Museum

Hive, Studio Gang’s 2017 Summer Block Party installation, has opened to the public at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Constructed from 2,551 silver-and-magenta wound paper tubes, Hive invites visitors to explore their senses in a series of dome-shaped chambers, each scaled to reflect a unique sound signature.

Utilizing structural paper tubes commonly used in construction as concrete formwork, Hive takes its form from the catenary physics that have inspired some of the world’s great structures such as the the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and Brunelleschi’s Dome at the Florence Cathedral in Italy, and vernacular buildings such as Musgum mud huts in Cameroon.

© Tim Schenck© Tim Schenck© Tim Schenck© Tim Schenck+ 9

Foster + Partners-led Apple Store Transformation of DC's Historic Carnegie Library Gets Greenlight

Plans for Apple’s next flagship store, to be located within the historic Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square in Washington, D.C, have been approved by the District’s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB).

The project comprises both an interior/exterior restoration and renovation of the 63,000-square-foot Beaux Arts library, which was constructed in 1903 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. The plan will allow the library to be shared by Apple and the building’s existing tenant, The Historical Society of Washington. The 2-story Apple store will be located on the first floor and basement levels of the building, and will be designed by Foster + Partners, continuing their collaboration with the tech giant.

Envisioning a Hip-Hop Urbanism in Washington DC

Collage from Ivy City, a preliminary stage of the Ivy City Redux project. Image © Kyle Simmons
Collage from Ivy City, a preliminary stage of the Ivy City Redux project. Image © Kyle Simmons

The following is a manifesto, in search of a movement... In it, I am proposing a theory of architecture based around a ruffneck, antisocial, hip-hop, rudeboy ethos. [1]
– Kara Walker

In her companion publication to the 2014 group exhibition “Ruffneck Constructivists,” the show’s curator, Kara Walker, lays down a radical manifesto for urban intervention. Just months before Ferguson [2] and a year before Baltimore, [3] Walker proposes her theory through which installation artists (along with architects and designers by extension) can become “defiant shapers of environments.” [4] The invocation and juxtaposition of the terms hip-hop and architecture in the intro to her manifesto is particularly remarkable given the show’s exclusive assembly of visual and installation artists.

Studio Gang to Construct "Hive" for the National Building Museum's Summer Block Party

Previously home to a beach-like ball pit, a giant maze, and sea of icebergs, this summer the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. will host the “Hive,” a 60-foot-tall domed structure made up of more than 2,700 individual paper tubes. Designed by Studio Gang, the installation is part of the museum’s Summer Block Party series, which invites architects to fill the building’s historic Great Hall with a temporary, immersive intervention.

James Corner Field Operations Selected to Transform Historic Canal Park in DC Neighborhood of Georgetown

James Corner Field Operations, the urban design and landscape architecture firm behind the High Line in New York City, has been selected by Georgetown Heritage to complete a similar transformation of a historic canal in the Washington D.C. neighborhood of Georgetown. Working with the National Park Service and the D.C. Office of Planning, the team will design a comprehensive master plan for a one-mile section of the Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park (C&O Canal NHP) to update the site from a historic location into a community asset.

Eleven Practices to Complete $2 Billion Waterfront Development in Washington D.C.

Eleven of the United States’ most prestigious architects have been selected by developers Hoffman-Madison Waterfront (HMW), to commence Phase 2 of The Wharf, a $2 billion neighborhood situated on the southwest waterfront of Washington D.C. The development is adjacent to the National Mall, spanning 24 acres of land and 50 acres of water.

“We have selected a diverse group of locally, nationally, and internationally renowned designers, knowing they will bring their talent and expertise to The Wharf, building a waterfront neighborhood that is an integral part of the city,” said Shawn Seaman, principal and Senior VP of Development at PN Hoffman.

Fly Through Mecanoo's Final Designs for Washington D.C.'s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

The District of Columbia Public Library authority has unveiled a fly-through video tour of the final design for the renovation and intervention of its main downtown branch, the Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library. According to the architects, Mecanoo and D.C.-based Martinez+Johnson Architecture, it shows "a modern library that reflects a focus on people, while celebrating the exchange of knowledge, ideas and culture." Slated for reopening in 2020, the designs will add 9,300 square feet of additional space for the public, including a rooftop event space and a landscaped terrace.

Exterior Bird's Eye. Image © MecanooExterior Corner View. Image © MecanooInside the lobby. Image © MecanooEast Entrance. Image © Mecanoo+ 14

How the NMAAHC Became the Greenest Museum in Washington DC

This article, originally titled "DC’s Museum Of African American History Is The City’s Greenest," was originally published on Lance Hosey's Huffington Post blog. It is part of a four-part series about the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Fifteen years ago, when I worked on the design of a high-performance museum, the concept was considered so unusual that the media questioned the very idea. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) had only very recently introduced its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, so much of the public wasn’t familiar with the concept. Over the following decade, it became more and more popular in every building type, including museums. A watershed year was 2008. The Water + Life Museums in Hemet, CA, became the first LEED Platinum museum, quickly followed by the California Academy of Science, which has been called “the world’s greenest museum.” The same year, the Grand Rapids Art Museum became the first LEED-certified art museum. By 2016, International Museum Day could highlight ten LEED-certified museums in the US alone.

Now the Smithsonian has completed its first LEED Gold project, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). (The Silver-rated National Museum of the American Indian [NMAI] was the first Smithsonian project to become a certified green building, although it wasn’t designed to this standard and didn’t achieve it until seven years after opening in 2004.) By many measures, the NMAAHC is easily the greenest museum in Washington.

How the NMAAHC Carves Out a "Space of Resistance" on the National Mall

This article, originally titled "The Space of Resistance," was originally published on Lance Hosey's Huffington Post blog. It is part of a four-part series about the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The city can be a powerful form of political myth, and Washington, DC, is the premier example.

Political myths dramatize historical events for ideological purposes, in order to strengthen the authority of the status quo. For example, America’s Founding Fathers often are portrayed as motivated only by a virtuous desire for universal freedom and equality, a simplistic depiction that ignores the complex socioeconomic forces behind the Revolution. The National Mall, its buildings, and its monuments, are America’s foundation myth writ large in stone and space. Manfredo Tafuri called the image of the District of Columbia “a timeless, indisputable, completely ‘positive’ Olympus” whose creation “presupposed great optimism and was thoroughly opposed to any polemical doubt.”

In this sense, the city as political myth is ripe for protest, and the National Mall has been the site of many of the most important protests in American history. Most often, these events consist only of people gathering for demonstration. Sometimes, however, they involve building.

Foster + Partners to Design Apple Store in Historic Washington D.C. Library

London’s Foster + Partners will likely design a flagship Apple store for the historic Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square in Washington, D.C., reports The Architect’s Newspaper. According to Events DC, Apple will lease a portion of the 63,000-square-foot building’s ground floor and basement levels in a ten-year lease, sharing the space with its existing tenant, The Historical Society of Washington.

Designs Unveiled for New Australian Embassy in Washington DC

Australian office Bates Smart has unveiled their design for the new Australian Embassy to the United States to be located in the diplomatic heart of Washington, D.C. Developed in partnership with local firm KCCT, the new building will provide the embassy with a contemporary workspace with views to the White House.

View North of Atrium Hub spaces. Image Courtesy of Bates SmartMorning view West of Eastern Elevation from 16th Street. Image Courtesy of Bates SmartView North East from Entry to Breakout Space. Image Courtesy of Bates SmartView South from Office floor down to entry. Image Courtesy of Bates Smart+ 5

MGM National Harbor's Luxury Gaming Resort Will Open in December

The $1.4 billion MGM National Harbor has started taking reservations. Nestled in the woodlands of Prince George's County, Maryland, HKS Hospitality Group's gaming resort is gearing up for its December 8th opening.

The hotel is slated as one of the "20 Most Anticipated Hotel Openings of 2016" (Forbes.com). In addition to suites, the hotel has a casino, two-story conservatory with horticulture and entertainment, and a dining and shopping complex. 

Courtesy of MGM National HarborCourtesy of MGM National HarborCourtesy of MGM National HarborCourtesy of MGM National Harbor+ 11

12 Dollhouses That Trace 300 Years of British Domesticity

As part of a new exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C., twelve dollhouses tracing the history of British domesticity have been lent by London's Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood. The show—Small Stories: At Home in a Dollhouse—spans 300 years and presents a miniature-sized, up-close-and-personal view of developments in architecture and design – from lavish country mansions, to an urban high-rise.

Whiteladies House (Moray Thomas, England, 1935). Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonWhiteladies House (Moray Thomas, England, 1935). Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonJennys Home (Tri-ang, Northern Ireland, 1960s). Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonBetty Pinney’s House, set in 1910s (England, 1870). Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London+ 63

Small Stories: 24 Architects, Artists and Designs Model Their Dream Houses in Miniature

As part of a new exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C., a group of 24 American architects, designers and architects have been commissioned to create "dream homes" in the format of the contemporary dollhouse. Part of Small Stories: At Home in a Dollhouse, in which twelve historical dollhouses spanning the past 300 years from London's Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood are being presented in the United States for the first time, these 21st Century interpretations intend to showcase a "diverse array of perspectives, demonstrating the limitless creativity of building in miniature."

Design Meditation Room / Marshall Moya Designs. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonThe Cupboard Under the Stairs / Louise Krasniewicz. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonPEEPS Playing Poker / Rebecca Heaton and Suzan Maher. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonThe Paper Trail / Patrick J. Baglino, Jr.. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London+ 25

Video: President Obama Inaugurates the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

© Darren Bradley
© Darren Bradley

“What we can see of this building, the towering glass, the artistry of the metalwork, is surely a sight to behold.”

These were the words spoken by President Barack Obama as he inaugurated the most recent addition to the National Mall in Washington D.C., the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, this past weekend. The opening ceremonies featured musical performances and celebrations, as well as a look at the museum’s place in American history.

“This national museum helps to tell a richer and fuller story of who we are,” said Obama. “It helps us better understand the lives, yes, of the president but also the slave, the industrialist but also the porter, the keeper of the status quo but also the activist seeking to overthrow that status quo.”

Critical Round-Up: The National Museum of African American History and Culture

A century since the founding of the National Memorial Association and the start of a campaign by African-American war veterans for a monument of African American culture, the National Museum of African American History and Culture will finally be opened on September 24th. The Museum took $540 million and four years to build, resulting in a striking, and refreshingly unorthodox, architectural construction on Washington DC’s National Mall. The Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup JJR team, led by Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, defiantly broke the white-marble-Corinthian-column convention, opting instead for a bronze-coated aluminum façade bound to provoke a reaction from the critics.

© Paul Clemence© Paul Clemence© Darren Bradley© Darren Bradley+ 19

Frank Gehry's Eisenhower Memorial One Step Closer to Realization After Finally Receiving Family Support

After years of steadfast disapproval of the proposed design for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Eisenhower family has finally voiced their support for the Frank Gehry designed park and monument – once a few more minor changes are made.

The 15-year-long process has already seen a multitude of design tweaks and revisions, but it appeared to have been decisively green-lit last summer following final approval by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC). In the past year, however, the project has once again stalled, as the Eisenhower Memorial Commission has struggled to find private donors following the withdrawal of congressional funding for the project in 2013.

Studio Gang Selected to Design Next Iteration of National Building Museum's Summer Block Party

Studio Gang has been selected to design next year’s installation of the Summer Block Party at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The temporary exhibition will be the latest in the Museum’s annual series, after this year’s ICEBERGS by James Corner Field Operations, and previous installations like Snarkitecture’s The BEACH in 2015, and Bjarke Ingels Group’s BIG Maze in 2014.