National Museum of African American History and Culture

Fall 2009
Industry News

Design Team Selected for
National Museum of African
American History and Culture

Masonry Design Magazine
Photo courtesy of Freelon Adjaye Bond / SmithGroup.

Earlier this year, the Smithsonian Institution selected the winning firm from its design competition for the planned National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The joint venture of Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup stood out among five other finalists (and 22 competing firms total) to win the job.

The design team consists of four firms: The Freelon Group, Adjaye Associates, Davis Brody Bond, and SmithGroup. Each of the firms has experience in designing such high-profile and culturally significant institutions. For example, The Freelon Group designed the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture in Baltimore. Additionally, David Adjaye designed the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, Norway and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver.

In its winning bid, the design team said, “The National Museum of African American History and Culture – the institution and building – embodies the African American spirit. Majestic yet exuberant, dignified yet triumphant, the building will be worthy of the museum’s vision, and its prominent place on the National Mall.”

The museum, which will be located on the National Mall near the Washington Monument, is scheduled to begin construction in 2012 and is set to open in 2015. The total cost for the project is estimated at $500 million.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to work with this talented team. Their vision and spirit of collaboration moved all members of the design competition jury,” said Museum Director Lonnie G. Bunch III. “I am confident that they will give us a building that will be an important addition to the National Mall and to the architecture of this city.”

In a news release speaking on behalf of the Freelon Adjaye Bond team, Philip G. Freelon, FAIA, said “This is an incredible time for us as designers – and this museum represents a unique opportunity to give form and substance to the powerful vision that has been established by the Smithsonian leadership. We are truly honored to have been chosen as the architects from such a distinguished list of competitors.” MD