Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has won a contact to redesign the Smithsonian Institution research and museum complex in Washington, DC, US.
As per the deal, BIG will develop a master plan for Smithsonian’s oldest buildings on the south side of the National Mall, which include the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Castle, the National Museum of African Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the S. Dillon Ripley Center, the Arts and Industries Building and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
BIG will work with Surface Design, a landscape architect; Traceries, a preservation consultant; and Robert Silman Associates, a structural engineering firm to redesign the campus.
Smithsonian is asking architects to create a better orientation space for visitors, enhance underground museums, link various buildings and make the gardens more active with cafes or public events.
Smithsonian project manager Christopher Lethbridge said BIG can develop a plan that will allow it to transform a group of buildings and outdoor spaces into a new place over the next decade.
BIG founder Bjarke Ingels said the abundance of historical heritage, the diversity of architectural languages and the cacophony of exhibits are tied together by a labyrinthine network of spaces above and below ground – inside and outside.
"Our task is to explore the collections with The Smithsonian and together attempt to untie the Gordian Knot of intertwined collections to unearth the full potential of this treasure chamber of artifacts," Ingels said.
Phase one of the Smithsonian Campus master plan is anticipated to be delivered in the next 12 months.
The Smithsonian Institution features 19 museums, nine research facilities and one zoological park.
Construction is currently underway on the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was designed by the UK-based architect David Adjaye.
Image: The first phase of the Smithsonian Campus master plan is expected to be delivered in the next 12 months. Photo: Bjarke Ingels Group.