National Museum of African American History & Culture

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Project Details

Est. 2016
350,000 sf

Davis Brody Bond, The Freelon Group, Adjaye Associates / SmithGroupJJR

Smithsonian Institution

Images © Smithsonian Institution / Bond Adjaye Freelon

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC)—the institution and the building—embodies the African American spirit. The new NMAAHC facility is designed to be a building worthy of the museum’s vision—and its prominent place on the National Mall. The primary architectural idea for the museum was derived from the classical tripartite column with its base, shaft and capital. In Yoruban art and architecture, the column or wooden post was usually crafted with a capital resembling a crown. This crown or corona form is the central idea which has driven the design of the museum. Reaching toward the sky, the bronze clad corona expresses faith, hope and resiliency. The museum’s collection will include a Jim Crow-era railroad car, a Tuskegee Airmen airplane from World War II, Emmett Till’s casket, and a slave cabin from South Carolina.

Silman participated in the design competition and initial programming study which was completed in the fall of 2008, and continued as a member of the design team for this new museum. Construction began in 2012 and the museum is expected to open in late 2016. Design on the site includes resiliency to flood conditions, archaeology of the historic National Mall site, and consideration for poor soils common to the area. Silman collaborated with Guy Nordenson and Associates for structural engineering services on this project.

2015 Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Awards, Concrete & Cast-in-place Concrete

Categories: Museums, New Construction