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BIG wins Smithsonian masterplan comp

The New York office of Danish practice BIG has won a competition to masterplan the Smithsonian institution in Washington

BIG saw off competition from six other shortlisted practices in the contest for the $2.4 million first phase of the museum campus masterplan.

The 160 year-old Smithsonian campus consists of 19 museums, the National Zoological Park and research facilities.

The masterplan will connect the institution’s museums and the 1885 Smithsonian Castle to the public realm. The design will reinstate the castle as the central building on the site, serving as a welcome point and information hub for visitors.

In the project which is expected to take two years to complete, the currently hidden Central Garden will be reconnected to the National Mall creating a grand entrance for the castle and adjacent museums.

Bjarke Ingels, founding partner of BIG said: ‘The abundance of historical heritage, the diversity of architectural languages and the cacophony of exhibits are tied together by a labyrinthine network of spaces above and below ground - inside and outside. Our task is to explore the collections with The Smithsonian and together attempt to untie the Gordian Knot of intertwined collections to unearth the full potential of this treasure chamber of artifacts.’

Christopher Lethbridge of the Smithsonian Institution, said: ‘BIG’s designs are innovative, analytical, unexpected and intelligent. We believe they can develop a plan that will enable us over the next decade to transform a disparate group of much-loved buildings and outdoor spaces into a place that is more dynamic, social and active.’

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