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BIG reveals plans for Washington’s Smithsonian

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Danish practice BIG, the architect behind the proposed new square at Battersea Power Station, has revealed its plans to overhaul Washington’s Smithsonian campus

The company’s 124,000m² masterplan for the site includes revamping the museums and gardens along Independence Avenue together with a ‘major revitalisation’ of the 1885 Smithsonian Castle.

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

The design will reinstate the Castle as the central building on the site, serving as a welcome point and information hub for visitors, and will restore the historic building’s great hall.

The project was won by the New York office of the Danish practice back in March last year, after they saw off competition from six other shortlisted practices.

BIG founder Bjarke Ingels said: ‘We have conceived a masterplan for the South Mall campus as an example of radical reinterpretation.

‘To resolve the contradictions between old and new, and to find freedom within the boundaries of strict regulation and historical preservation, we have chosen to carefully reinterpret the elements that are already present in the campus.

‘By forging new links between the various technical, programmatic, logistical and curatorial demands, we have created a new landscape of connectivity and possibility. We believe this plan holds the potential to guide the Smithsonian South Mall Campus into the future while remaining firmly rooted in its heritage.’

Work on the proposed masteplan is set to begin in 2016 and is expected to take up to 20 years to complete.

The scheme will be on display at the National Building Museum in Washington until August 2015 as part of an exhibition of BIG’s work.  

BIG Smithsonian

Project data

Location Washington DC, USA
Type of project masterplan
Client Smithsonian Institute
Architect BIG
Landscape architect Surfacedesign
Structural engineer Robert Silman Associates
Services engineer GHT
Historic preservation EHT Traceries
Sustainability consultant Atelier Ten
Cost consultant VJ Associates
Civil engineer Wiles Mensch
Area 123,703m²

Previous story (AJ 19.03.13)

BIG wins Smithsonian masterplan comp


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