Smithsonian stalls on Olympicopolis plans while British Museum considers satellite site

by Tom Anstey | 14 Apr 2016

While the Smithsonian is stalling on plans to move to London’s Olympicopolis site, the British Museum is looking at the possibility of a satellite site at the upcoming cultural hub.

For the Washington-based Smithsonian, which has 19 affiliates in the US, uncertainty over costs to open a new 3,750sq m (40,300sq ft) satellite facility within the new cultural quarter on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has delayed a final decision.

The development – which would focus on America’s history and contribution to science – would be the first for Smithsonian outside the US, but the plans are now under review with a final decision expected before the end of June.

For the British Museum, a satellite facility at Olympicopolis could also be on the cards, with the institution looking at opening a facility to house the collections it currently holds in storage at Blythe House, which the UK government is planning to sell.

As part of 2015’s Autumn Statement, chancellor George Osborne allocated £150m (US$212m, €188.7m) to enable the three institutions storing collections a Blythe House to build new facilities to house their artefacts. In addition to the British Museum, the Science Museum and V&A Museum have been storing their collections at Blythe House.

Olympicopolis – which is a legacy project of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – has been designed by an architectural team led by British practice Allies and Morrison and including RIBA Royal Gold Medal winners O’Donnell and Tuomey and Spanish firm Arquitecturia.

The waterfront site, situated next to the London Aquatics Centre and ArcelorMittal Orbit, will provide a home for several cultural facilities as part of the huge new cultural and education quarter.

Outline planning application for the scheme is expected to be submitted in December 2016. Building work is due to start in 2018 and the waterfront is scheduled to open in 2020/21.

Smithsonian  Museum  Heritage  US  UK  British Museum  Olympicopolis  London Aquatics Centre  ArcelorMittal Orbit  Blythe House 
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While the Smithsonian is stalling on plans to move to London’s Olympicopolis site, the British Museum is looking at the possibility of a satellite site at the upcoming cultural hub. For the Washington-based Smithsonian, which has 19 affiliates in the US, uncertainty over costs to open a new 3,750sq m (40,300sq ft) satellite facility within the new cultural quarter on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has delayed a final decision.
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The Smithsonian is having second thoughts about moving to the Olympic Park but insists it remains committed to the project
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