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What to expect from Smithsonian's $2B master plan

Rendering via Bjarke Ingels Group/The Smithsonian
Rendering via Bjarke Ingels Group/The Smithsonian

Portions of the Smithsonian Institution's south campus will be removed, remodeled, and completely reconstructed. The Smithsonian's 10- to 20-year master plan will total to $2 billion with construction that won't begin for another seven years.

Plans include a total renovation of the Smithsonian Castle with designs by architect Bjarke Ingels who hopes to create a "poetic and magical experience." With designs for the Smithsonian's south campus that are being described as "understated," Ingels said he wants to "get the most out of what's already here." Doing so, he'll be completely redesigning the way the south campus currently looks.

Expect new entrances, skylights, expansions, and the boldest visual move, being the edges of the Enid A. Haupt Garden swept up into the air by almost 30 feet.

There is no detailed budget or timeline yet for the development, but the project will be funded by a mix of federal and private funds.


The Castle's Great Hall will be restored with a new entrance to the Enid A. Haupt Garden and the underground Ripley Center. A two-level underground expansion will include a cafe, retail store, and reconfigured Ripley Center education space. The Castle will also be upgraded to meet safety requirements, including seismic reinforcement.


For the Arthur M. Sackler and Freer Gallery of Art, the existing loading dock between both galleries will be removed with a newly constructed central loading dock. There will be new entrances to the east, facing the Haupt Garden, and the current above-ground pavilion entrance to the Sackler Gallery will be removed.

Underneath the Haupt Garden, the roof to the Quadrangle Building will be replaced and will include large skylights and 28-foot-tall curved edges. Both the Sackler Gallery and the National Museum of African Art will be expanded by 30 percent.


For the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the concrete perimeter walls will be lowered, and the Sculpture Garden will be expanded. Two contemporary art galleries will be constructed along with an auditorium beneath the Sculpture Garden. The circular fountain at the Hirshhorn Museum will be lowered by a level.

There are also plans for improved access from the Freer Gallery of Art to the Hirshhorn Museum

· Smithsonian Announces BIG Plans for Campus Redesign [Smithsonian Magazine]
· Smithsonian outlines $2 billion proposal for Mall campus renovation [Washington Post]
· Smithsonian unveils $2 billion master plan for its south campus [Washington Business Journal]
· bjarke ingels group reveals smithsonian masterplan for washington DC [DesignBoom]