Black History Museum Models Displayed on National Mall

Larry Saxton | 4/1/2009, 4:44 p.m.

An exhibit of the models for the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture will be on display through Mon., April 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., in the Smithsonian Institution Building. The exhibition features the design concepts, photographs and architectural models of the new museum.

€Seeing the early results of their [the architectural teams] work has been inspiring and being able to share it now with the public is a genuine honor,€ said museum director Lonnie Bunch, III. €This is an exciting moment in the development of this museum.€

The Ford Foundation and the Green House Foundation of Chicago supported the design competition. Bunch will make the selection of the winning team and announce the winner in mid-April.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be the 19th museum of the Smithsonian and the first officially green building on the National Mall. The new museum will be constructed on a five-acre plot of land at the corner of 14th and Constitution Avenue. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2012, and the opening to the public in 2015, according to Bunch. Total cost of the project, including design and construction, is estimated at about $500 million. Congress will provide one-half of the total cost, with the other half being raised through a private fundraising campaign.

Each of the competing firms responded to a Request for Qualification (RFQ) and panel of experts from the Smithsonian evaluated the teams, ensuring that they met the qualifications of the RFQ such as having key personnel in the areas of building and landscape architecture; structural and life safety engineering; and demonstrating an appreciation of African American history and culture.

€We wanted the teams to understand not only the contents of the museum, but the context of the museum,€ said Sheryl Kolasinski, director of the Smithsonian€s Office of Planning and Project Management.

The six firms competing are Devrouax & Purnell Architects/Planners, P.C., and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects, LLP€"a joint venture; Diller Scofidio + Renfro in association with KlingStubbins; Foster + Partners/URS joint venture; Freelon Adjaye Bond in association with SmithGroup; Moody Nolan Inc. in association with Antoine Predock Architect PC; Moshe Safdie and Associates Inc. in association with Sultan Campbell Britt & Associates, Baltimore.

€Today, we are a step closer to creating that signature building: a building that will [be] viewed as a wonderful addition to the [National] Mall and the architecture of this city; a building that we hope will illuminate the resilience, the optimism, the spiritualities, the struggles and the joy that emanates from the Black community; a building that is not only worthy of the traditions and standards of the Smithsonian, but is worthy of the rich history and culture of Black America,€ Bunch said. €Dr. John Hope Franklin, the noted African American historian, who was my mentor, reminded me almost daily that this museum must help America see all of the dark corners of its history.€