Renderings: Bjarke Ingels Group
Bjarke Ingels Group has big plans for revamping the Smithsonian Castle campus in DC.
The Smithsonian Institution announced plans last week to upgrade its museums and gardens along Independence Avenue SW, from 7th to 12th streets.
The $2 billion South Mall Master Plan, which will be implemented over a 10- to 20-year period beginning in 2016, will be the most significant change to the National Mall in a century, The Verge reported. The goal of the redesign is to improve visitor services and education; create clear entrances and connections between the museums and gardens; and to replace aging building mechanical systems.
The centerpiece of the massive project is the revitalization of the Smithsonian Castle, which opened in 1855 and serves as a visitor information center and the headquarters of the Institution. The historic Great Hall will be restored (partitions currently cut its floor space almost in half), and there will be a two-level underground space carved out for visitor services. The reconfigured layout will open up the campus, so people can easily flow from the Smithsonian Castle to the Freer Gallery, the Hishhorn museum, the Arts and Industries Building and the below-grade Sackler Gallery and African Art Museum.
“The Master Plan provides the first-ever integrative vision for the South Mall,” Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, said in a statement. “Bjarke Ingels Group has given us a plan that will offer open vistas, connected museums, galleries bathed in daylight, new performance venues, gardens that invite people into them, and it will visually attract visitors who will have an unparalleled experience.”
The master plan, which covers infrastructure needs and beautification, will be funded with a mix of federal and private money. The proposal requires review from the National Capital Planning Commission, and a public meeting to discuss the undertaking will be scheduled in December.
The design will be on display at an upcoming exhibition at the National Building Museum from January to August 2015.