After a year-and-a-half of planning, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels just unveiled his plans to redesign the Smithsonian's south campus, located next to Washington, D.C.'s National Mall. Don't expect any new modern buildings though; BIG’s $2 billion overhaul aims to enhance the site's existing character and drive more visitor traffic to the area's oft-overlooked museums. The two-decades-long project is slated to begin in 2016 and is expected to result in a 40 percent CO2 emission reduction and 34 percent energy savings.
BIG’s South Mall redesign will have three main goals: to create a more cohesive and easily navigable master plan to tie the museums and gardens together, to improve the visitor experience with expanded amenities such as retail and restaurants, and to replace aging infrastructure with modern and energy-efficient systems. “Where today each museum is almost like a separate entity, in the future, it’s going to be a much more open, intuitive and inviting campus to meander around,” says Ingels.
The centerpiece of BIG’s campus redesign will be the renovation and seismic retrofit of the historic Smithsonian Castle, a faux Norman style building clad in eye-catching red sandstone that houses the Smithsonian’s administrative offices. The new master plan will also add new entrances and improved access to the National Museum of African Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Freer Gallery of Art, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. BIG will redesign the Enid A. Haupt Garden by elevating and peeling up the corners of the landscape to help bring more natural light into the underground galleries.
Images via Smithsonian