Smithsonian shrinks $ 2 billion expansion plan

Smithsonian’s spectacular $ 2 billion expansion plan should have driven the institution into the 21st century.

The ambitious expansion of the castle, a red administration building of the 19th century, added dining, retail stores and toilets, and completed a new entrance facing the National Mall, the concept of the National Museum of Africa and Arthur M. Suckler Gallery. .. The design of the South Campus was announced at the big fanfare in 2014. The first phase, including the repair of the exterior of the Hirshhorn Museum, was already underway.

But on Wednesday, the organization said its master plan no longer included any of these elements and was revised to instead focus on the restoration of the interior and exterior of the castle, and the improvement of the interior and underground of the arts industry building. I did. It has been closed since 2004 due to renovations.

Anne Trowbridge, Smithsonian’s Deputy Director of Planning, said the preservation of the building was the focus of the redesign from the beginning. “An important aspect of the master plan for castles, AIBs and Hirshhorns has always been focused on the restoration and refurbishment of historic textiles,” she said. “And that remains a priority.”

Designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, the original blueprint will dramatically reshape the 17 acres surrounding the castle over the next 20 to 30 years and will begin construction this year. It would have rearranged the loading dock to expand the yard behind the castle and added shock absorbers under the building for seismic protection. (Smithsonian historic preservation expert Curly Bond said the proposed seismic isolation system would still provide seismic protection.)

First released Wednesday afternoon to a virtual audience of community leaders, the reduction plan focuses on the refurbishment and restoration of two National Historic Landmarks. Designed by James Renwick Jr. and completed in 1855. An art industry building designed by Adolf Klass and Paul Schulze and built in 1881. It also includes a new central underground utility plant that will serve several buildings, including castles and arts and industry buildings. The plan will be submitted to the National Capital Planning Commission on Thursday.

Ronnie G. Bunch III, who became the Smithsonian Institution’s first African-American secretary in 2019, told The Washington Post on Monday that the change in master plan resulted from him “coming in” “just evolution. It’s a process. ” Ask a specific question. He said he had delegated the implementation to Kevin Gober, Deputy Secretary of Museum and Culture.

The Smithsonian spent $ 5.5 million on the construction and research of the Master Plan announced in 2014. In response to the proposal, some lamented the loss of the peaceful Enid A. Haupt Garden, but the Smithsonian later announced that it would hold it, but others were worried about seismic protection and the castle’s. Underground expansion will pose a risk to the building.

Smithsonian Chief Spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said in an interview Tuesday that the Master Plan, approved by the State Capital Planning Commission in 2018, is just a vision for the next few decades of the campus. “We know that once a project is approved and published individually, changes will be made to the project,” she said.

However, Smithsonian’s finances were hit during the pandemic. The institute lost $ 49 million between March and September due to a coronavirus-related closure and abandoned plans to partner with the Victoria and Albert Museum in September to open its first overseas exhibition space in London. The post first reports that the revised plan for the castle and arts industry building will be funded primarily by Congress, as it focuses on significant upgrades such as electricity and plumbing systems, new roofs and windows. did. The renewed cost has not been disclosed.

The Smithsonian is currently completing the first project under the Master Plan, a renovation of the exterior of the Hirshhorn Museum, and soon a sculpture garden. Construction of the castle and arts industry building is scheduled to begin in 2023, according to St. Thomas, and is expected to take at least five years. (The last major renovation of the castle was completed in 1968.) The removal and restoration of the third project, Enid A. Haupt Garden, will begin until 2029 to replace the roof of the building beneath it. There are no plans to be done.

Some new museums may soon join the campus. The Latin American National Museum and the National Museum of Women’s History. Both were recently approved by Congress as part of a year-end spending bill. St. Thomas said the Arts Industry Building was being considered to house the Latin American Museum, but the location has not yet been selected.

Smithsonian shrinks $ 2 billion expansion plan

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