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Hirshhorn Museum

Washington, DC
  • Photo credit: TimothyJ / CC BY-SA 2.0.

Designed by Gordon Bunshaft and completed in 1974, the Hirshhorn Museum’s iconic hollow cylindrical design stands in contrast with its traditional neighbors along the National Mall. The cylinder sits atop four massive cast-in-place concrete piers and its elevated placement opens up the central plaza for circulation and sculpture installations. The structured plaza slab sits over a below-grade area containing gallery and back of house spaces.

For many years, Silman has worked directly for the Smithsonian performing structural investigations, repairs, and renovations on the museum and gardens. Projects have included a site and material investigation. After evaluating documents, Silman conducted a visual survey, planned selective probes in coordination with curatorial staff, and documented conditions. After using material testing to determine the cause of deteriorating conditions, Silman then developed measures for potential remediation and preservation schemes to reduce ongoing deterioration.

The firm recently provided structural designs for elevator renovations as well as envelope repairs and improvements, replacing the exterior precast panels, balcony glazing, and roofing while improving energy efficiency and humidity control. Silman is also on the design team for the largest modernization in the museum’s history, which aims to overhaul the interior and galleries.

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