All Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., including the National Zoo, and in New York City continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Buildings in the South Mall Master Plan
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Smithsonian Institution Building
Revitalization of the Castle is at the heart of the South Mall Master Plan. The proposed plan will provide an expanded and improved visitors’ center and accessibility to and from the museums and gardens of the South Mall. Renovation of the Castle is expected to begin in 2021, preceded by several supporting projects to temporarily relocate visitor services and consolidate office space.
- The Great Hall will be restored to its full grandeur by the removal of intruding modern partitioned areas that currently reduce its floor area by 40 percent; this will enable it to serve at least twice as many visitors and provide more information about the Smithsonian.
- The Upper Great Hall will similarly be restored to grandeur through the removal of a modern inserted floor level, relocation of administrative office space and the careful insertion of new infrastructure to create flexible spaces for a wide variety of public programs and special events.
- Aging infrastructure systems will be replaced with new energy-efficient systems.
A two-level underground expansion of the Castle will provide both additional public space and a necessary seismic upgrade to make this National Historic Landmark more resistant to damage from earthquakes.
The underground levels will include:
- Visitor amenities, including a cafe, a retail store and restrooms directly accessible to and from the Enid A. Haupt Garden and the Great Hall, and new entrances to the National Museum of African Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
- Reconfigured and expanded S. Dillon Ripley Center education spaces adjacent to the visitor amenities.
- A new central loading dock designed to serve all of the buildings and gardens of the South Mall campus, located on Independence Avenue near 12th Street. The present loading-dock ramp (between the Freer Gallery of Art and the Sackler Gallery) will be eliminated. Also, the parking lot on the east side of the Arts and Industries Building will be removed, enhancing and expanding the area for the gardens and pedestrian circulation.
- A new, sustainable central utility plant that would replace systems that are at the end of their useful life, eventually serving all of the South Mall campus. The completed plant would provide a projected 34 percent reduction in energy use and more than 50 percent reduction in energy costs. Carbon dioxide emissions are projected to be reduced by 39 percent.
Freer Gallery of Art
The Master Plan proposes a new accessible entrance from the garden on the east side of the building. This entry is created by extending existing window openings to grade and would provide direct access to the ground-floor level of the Freer, leaving the historic galleries above unchanged.
Quadrangle Building and Enid A. Haupt Garden
The Master Plan for the quadrangle building addresses key issues:
- More visible and convenient public access to the two museums
- Additional daylight for a building 95 percent below grade
- Expansion of the Haupt Garden has the potential to better connect the garden space and Smithsonian campus to both the National Mall and to the revitalized mixed-use neighborhood south of Independence Avenue envisioned in the city’s Southwest EcoDistrict Plan
- The Sackler Gallery and National Museum of African Art will be expanded by 30 percent, providing better-connected and more accessible exhibition, public programs and collections space
- A new, centrally located auditorium, well connected to additional classrooms, visitor amenities and special-events space, to better accommodate the Smithsonian’s extensive public programming
- Replacement of the current three entry pavilions (Sackler Gallery, National Museum of African Art and the Ripley Center) with more conveniently located museum entries closer to the Mall and the Castle
- Replacement of mechanical systems at the end of their useful life, including the original roof membrane underneath the Haupt Garden
Arts and Industries Building
The Master Plan provides a flexible framework for integrating both interim and permanent uses of the Arts and Industries Building. The building was named in proposed congressional legislation as the home of the Smithsonian American Latino Museum. The building may serve as a temporary visitor center and accommodate Ripley Center education programs during renovations to the Castle.
The proposed plan for the Arts and Industries Building includes:
- At-grade and below-grade east-west public pathways from the Arts and Industries Building to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Haupt Garden, the Castle and the quadrangle building museums
- Expanded gardens on the east side of the building created by the removal of the existing parking lot
- A public viewing platform at the top of the building’s rotunda enhancing the visitor experience with extraordinary views of the National Mall and the Smithsonian’s museums and gardens
- Connection to the new below-ground sustainable centralized utility plant and central loading facilities to be built as part of the Castle project
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
The Master Plan will better integrate the Hirshhorn with the rest of the South Mall campus, improve public access and provide expanded gallery and program space. Key features of the plan include:
- Lowering of the museum’s freestanding perimeter concrete walls to provide a more welcoming entrance from the Mall, improved wheelchair accessibility and an east-west connection to the Arts and Industries Building and to the Haupt Garden, Castle, Freer Gallery and quadrangle museums beyond
- Reconfiguration of the existing Sculpture Garden to accommodate two new high-ceilinged contemporary art galleries and a new auditorium
- A reconfigured sculpture garden that is more accessible to visitors and better integrated with the National Mall and its landscape
- Creation of a new sunken-fountain courtyard that provides expanded access to the museum’s new galleries and the sculpture garden
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