BIG unveils $2bn masterplan for Washington’s Smithsonian

by Katie Buckley | 14 Nov 2014

A proposed masterplan for the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C, was unveiled this week by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), re-imagining the South Mall campus and the area around the Smithsonian’s iconic ‘Castle’.

Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution is one of the world’s largest museum and research complexes, boasting the National Zoological Park and several research facilities, as well as 19 museums and galleries.

It is expected that the plan will be implemented over the next 10-20 years with an estimated cost of US$2bn (€1.6bn, £1.3bn). This plan is not a ‘quick-fix’ for the museum and the proposed masterplan combines several major projects that need to be worked on.

If the plan is approved by the National Capital Planning Commission, it is hoped that work will start in 2016.

The proposal has three primary goals: to create clear entrances and connections between museums and gardens, to improve and expand visitor services and education, and replace ageing building mechanical systems.

The complex itself has elements that are in severe need of restoration, such as the aforementioned Castle, which was originally opened in 1855 and is now used to house a visitor information centre and the Institution's headquarters. Plans for this building include substantial renovations, seismic reinforcements and the addition of a two-level underground space for visitor services, a café and shop – with direct access to the Enid A. Haupt Garden and the underground Ripley Centre.

BIG’s masterplan aims to give the site a radical reinterpretation, according to Bjarke Ingels, founder of BIG: “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.”

A proposed masterplan for the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C, was unveiled this week by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), re-imagining the South Mall campus and the area around the Smithsonian’s iconic ‘Castle’. Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution is one of the world’s largest museum and research complexes, boasting the National Zoological Park and several research facilities, as well as 19 museums and galleries. It is expected that the
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The proposed $2bn long-term masterplan for the Smithsonian, if approved, will begin renovations in 2016 / BIG and Smithsonian Institution
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