Technogym
Technogym
Technogym

Long-awaited National Museum of African American History and Culture opens in Washington

I could never remake this museum, or repeat it, because it’s so bound up in the particulars of its location, of its goals and of its place in history
– David Adjaye

The long-awaited opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. will take place this Saturday (24 September), with US president Barack Obama in attendance.

A three-day festival of music, literature, dance and film will accompany the opening of the museum, which is dedicated to exploring the story of America through the lens of the African American experience.

Obama will lead the museum’s dedication ceremony and mark the opening by ringing a specially restored and shipped bell from the First Baptist Church in Williamsburg, which was founded by slaves and free blacks in 1776.

Thousands of free tickets are being released for the museum’s opening day as part of the Smithsonian’s annual Museum Day Live! event.

The 400,000sq ft (37,000sq m) museum, which focuses on themes of African American history, culture and community, is located on a five-acre site on Constitution Avenue next to the Washington Monument.

The nine-story building features exhibition galleries, an education centre, a 350-seat theatre and a café. Signature spaces are the Contemplative Court, a memorial area for reflection; the Central Hall, the primary public space in the museum; and a reflecting pool at the south entrance.

The most significant component of the design is the bronze crown-like Corona, which forms the visible exterior of the building. Three inverted pyramids, inspired by the form of a Yoruba sculpture and echoing the angle of the Washington Monument, sit on top of each other to give a sense of uplift. Meanwhile, the patterned façade evokes the architectural ironwork made by African American artisans in southern US cities before and after the Civil War.

The building was designed by the Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup collective, with Tanzanian-born British architect David Adjaye leading the overall vision.

“Several things absolutely came to mind in thinking through what this building should be and how it should work with the programme that we were given,” Adjaye told CLAD.

“How do you add to such a fantastic masterplan, one of the most significant masterplans in the world – this incredible monumental core to the capital city of the most powerful country in the world? How do you understand its intrinsic nature, which is the idea of the pastoral and the ordered landscape? How do you make an end to the ordered landscape and begin the pastoral, which is the National Mall proper, and then open onto the Washington Monument grounds?

“In a way, I always conceived of this building as a kind of turning point – a knuckle, a joint – which articulates the two things, neither one nor the other, but bridging between the two. This can be understood as a metaphor for the less tangible bridge between cultures – ensuring that the African American story becomes a universal story.

“I could never remake this museum, or repeat it, because it’s so bound up in the particulars of its location, of its goals and of its place in history.”

The inaugural exhibitions will include A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond; Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: Era of Segregation 1876-1968; and Double Victory: The African American Military Experience.

“A project isn’t finished and nothing is achieved until it’s used,” said Adjaye. “I can’t wait to see the museum once it has opened, to see how people respond to the space and use it in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

“That’s when the project is finished for me; only then can I begin to comment on whether any of my goals have been realised.”

The full interview with David Adjaye can be read in the current issue of CLADmag, available to read as a PDF or on digital turning pages.

In his own words
David Adjaye on the National Museum of African American History and Culture and his design philosophy

Do you have a personal favourite part of the museum?

Inside, there are ‘lens moments’, where visitors enjoy clear, unobstructed windows onto specific views of the city and the Washington Memorial grounds. The internal glazed skin is mostly fritted with a 20 per cent density for the purpose of night-time luminosity, yet at these moments where one encounters the façade, the frit is removed completely to provide an immediate, powerful and tactile experience of the corona skin. For example, as one rises up the building via the escalators to the west, the fritting disappears to reveal the corona. This effect is repeated on the east in the education spaces and the café on the south-west corner.

You’ve said that you believe in architecture as a force for good. How important is that when considering what projects to take on?

My ideal is to be able to explore new typologies, experiment with different materials and establish a meaningful connection to contemporary culture while exploring a social discourse. The simple act of building forces engagement – you can’t ignore it. Things always happen from that and the question is how we celebrate it or deny it. It is important not to be hampered or intimidated by the idea of difference – but rather to seek to be open and even speculative about the possibilities it offers.

Why do you think it’s important that our cultural and leisure spaces are well designed?

As civic buildings, the role of cultural and leisure spaces is to provide access to a collective consciousness while offering the chance for dialogue between different generations and social groupings. These kinds of buildings offer an opportunity for re-invention.

Thinking about what an institution should look like, and how, for example, a museum should work with its audience, is something that’s still playing out. Good design has a critical role to play in this challenge.

National Museum of African American History and Culture  David Adjaye  Washington DC 
Related stories
03 Aug 2016

Exclusive: David Adjaye tells CLAD about his design for the 'monumental' National Museum of African American History and Culture

19 May 2016

Video shows interiors of David Adjaye's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.

The long-awaited opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. will take place this Saturday (24 September), with US president Barack Obama in attendance. A three-day festival of music, literature, dance and film will accompany the opening of the museum, which is dedicated to exploring the story of America through the lens of the African American experience. Obama will lead the museum’s dedication ceremony
VAT,HAM,AAC,ARC,DES,DEV,PHR,CLD
The 400,000sq ft (37,000sq m) museum is located on a five-acre site on Constitution Avenue next to the Washington Monument / Alan Karchmer/NMAAHC
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7662     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7662     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: Painting With Light
Painting with Light is a team of professional lighting and multimedia experts who design and produce visual experiences that dazzle & shine.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Left to right: Richard Rogers, Graham Stirk and Ivan Harbour
Stephen Barrett (left) 
and John McElgunn (right) were both made partners at RSHP in 2016
"Leisure space – public space – is at the very root of democracy, and architecture is about democracy"

As RSHP completes its latest cultural project, we speak to two of its partners about why Richard Rogers isn’t leaving his succession to chance

Three flights of wide steps invite the visitor into the building.
Alexander Schwarz
"Our aim was to create a place celebrating public space and accessibility"

The opening of the James-Simon- Galerie on Berlin’s Museum Island completes two decades of work for David Chipperfield Architects. The lead designer talks us through the building

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
Interview: Blurred lines
Scott Lee became president of SB Architects in 2000. Tracy Lee founded TLee Spas in 2015
"We design to connect the guest to the place, positioning people at the centre of the design"

Architect Scott Lee and spa consultant Tracey Lee on marrying the worlds of design and wellness in a series of interesting projects

Montreal’s Esplanade Tranquille will feature 36 geothermal wells
"Funding woes and murky timelines are common problems. It can be easier to make a difference one small project at a time"

From parks designed to mitigate the effects of flooding to warming huts for one of the world’s coldest cities, these projects have been designed for increasingly extreme climates

The reception features a Karel Teige collage artwork
Tina Norden
"We have created an approach which is playful, provocative but also functional"

Conran and Partners’ Tina Norden on playing with colour at Prague’s newly redesigned Hotel Maximilian

features
Thomas Woltz
"I am very proud of stewarding the largest public space to be built in Manhattan in a century"

The Wall Street Journal’s Design Innovator of the Year on designing the gardens at Hudson Yards and looking to the Native Americans for ideas on how to create a resilient future

Profile: Daan Roosegaarde
"I want to demonstrate that creativity is our true capital as humans "

Rather than feeling fearful and helpless about the future, we must design a way out of the environmental problems we have created, argues the innovative Dutch designer, artist and inventor Daan Roosegaarde

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, US
José Almiñana
"We are committed to designing evocative landscapes informed by the best environmental science"

The Andropogon principal on pushing the boundaries of landscape design for the benefit of humans and nature

cladkit product news
Cosm unveils Experience Centre with ‘one of a kind’ LED dome
The new Experience Centre houses a 20m LED dome
Magali Robathan
Cosm, a global technology company that builds end-to-end solutions for immersive experiences, has unveiled its Experience Centre which houses a ...
Eden project uses drones to spell out climate change warning
Magali Robathan
Almost 300 drones were used to signal an environmental message above the Eden Project’s biomes, during the UN Climate Change ...
Diamond balloon concept merges tourist attraction with advertising billboard
Magali Robathan
A group of Dutch engineers have presented a new attractions concept that combines a flying observation cabin with LED digital ...
cladkit product news
Fabio Alemanno Design uses elegant semi-precious stones to create memorable spa experiences
Alemanno believes the stones are well-placed in the spa environment thanks to their capacity to positively support physical and mental health
Megan Whitby
Fabio Alemanno Design has expanded its collection with semi-precious stones to enhance spas, wellness facilities, hotels and private residences. The ...
Alberto Apostoli and Newform collaborate to launch the A.Zeta showerhead
The showerhead offers two modes; rainfall or waterfall
Megan Whitby
Italian architect Alberto Apostoli has renewed his partnership with Newform – an Italian wellness company – and designed A.Zeta. A.Zeta ...
Jaffe Holden helps bring Academy Museum of Motion Pictures alive
Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics for the Academy Museum
Magali Robathan
Acoustical consulting firm Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics and audio/video design services for the recently opened Academy Museum of Motion ...
cladkit product news
LianTronics’ glasses-free 3D Star Trek LED screen attracts attention
Magali Robathan
LianTronics’ giant curved LED wall with stunning glasses-less 3D spaceship display effect has attracted many on the street of Chengdu, ...
Móz Designs columns anchor the world’s largest indoor aquarium
The design of the columns was inspired by the sea
Magali Robathan
After a two-year renovation, Oakland-based metal experts Móz Designs have unveiled their inclusion in Georgia Aquarium’s new shark gallery. Located ...
Christie laser projectors power new Five Senses Bubble dome theatre
The dome aims to integrate technology with arts and culture
Magali Robathan
Christie® GS Series 1DLP® laser projectors are delivering vivid and lifelike visuals in a new dome theatre located in Xiong’an ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates
Technogym
Technogym