Smithsonian Unveils Plans for $2B South Mall Campus Renovation

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor The Smithsoninan plans to renovate its South Mall campus. Last week, the institution unveiled a $2 billion master plan to revitalize the museums and gardens along Independence Avenue S.W., from Seventh to 12th streets. Denmark-based Bjarke Ingels Group, a noted international architectural firm, was hired to design the plan. It [...]

Rendering of the South Mall Campus at night

The Smithsoninan plans to renovate its South Mall campus. Last week, the institution unveiled a $2 billion master plan to revitalize the museums and gardens along Independence Avenue S.W., from Seventh to 12th streets.

Denmark-based Bjarke Ingels Group, a noted international architectural firm, was hired to design the plan. It calls for:

  • the renovation of the iconic Smithsonian Castle, which opened in 1855;
  • the construction of new Mall-facing entrances to the National Museum of African Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery;
  • interior renovations and underground construction to support the Arts and Industries Building;
  • the replacement of the aging building mechanical systems;
  • the replacement of the roof under the Haupt Garden;
  • new connections between the museums and the gardens;
  • expanding The Hirshhorn Museum and making it more open and accessible to the Mall.

Proposed View of the Hirshhorn Museum from Seventh Street

According to the Smithsonian, the revitalization of the Castle is the centerpiece of the proposed South Mall Master Plan. It is the institution’s oldest building and currently serves as headquarters and visitor information center. Once renovated, the Castle will offer many new amenities, including retail, cafes and public gathering spaces.

The $2 billion South Mall Master Plan will be implemented over a 10- to 20-year period, starting in 2016. Financing will come from a mix of federal and private funds.

Aerial View of the South Mall Campus During the Day

The proposed Master Plan has to be reviewed by the National Capital Planning Commission. The Smithsonian also said it will hold a public meeting to discuss the plan in December.

“The Master Plan provides the first-ever integrative vision for the South Mall,” said Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. “Bjarke Ingels Group has given us a plan that will offer open vistas, connected museums, galleries bathed in daylight, new performance venues, gardens that invite people into them, and it will visually attract visitors who will have an unparalleled experience.”

Photos courtesy of the Smithsonian