The master plan to redevelop the Smithsonian Campus in Washington DC has been updated by architecture firm BIG.
The project will restore and revitalise roughly 17 acres of the Smithsonian Institution campus at a cost of $2bn. It will involve upgrading facilities, access and links across the campus, which includes Smithsonian Castle, the Arthur M Sackler Gallery and the National Museum of African Art. The museums are arranged around the Haupt Garden and joined by a concourse below street level.
BIG’s plans include the expansion of the visitor centre and new education space, to be accessed by descending walkways from the National Mall. It also includes the reconfiguration of the entrance pavilions to the African Art Museum and the Sackler Gallery.
The original plan was unveiled in 2014 and received criticism for suggesting the removal of the four-acre Haupt Garden that sits in front of the castle.
In BIG’s updated plans, which were revised following an extended period of public consultation, two corners of the garden are lifted to create an entrance to an underground concourse connecting the campus’ museums. The area where the garden was previously lowered to meet the subterranean space has been brought back up to ground level.
The landscape design for the area has also been changed so that it more closely resembles its current state.
BIG founder Bjarke Ingels said: “Since our last proposal, we’ve been listening very closely to the public. We wanted the general feeling and fondness for the Haupt Garden to remain the same while also increasing its enjoyment and use, offering educational elements and after hour programs.”
The project will start with renovation and structural reinforcement of the castle and work is due to commence in 2021.