It’s been three years since the Smithsonian Institution announced the proposed $2 billion redesign of their south campus, which is where the Smithsonian Castle is located. While still uncertain of how they will afford the project, the Smithsonian Institution expects to begin an environmental impact study this fall with a draft master plan finalized by next spring.
In a recent information session at the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), Smithsonian Associate Director for Planning Ann Trowbridge said, “We are beginning the studies that will lead to its design, but we don’t have the funds identified for the castle to start.”
Despite this, Trowbridge said that she anticipates the project to start by 2022 with funding expected to come from both federal appropriations and private funding.
Part of what has caused the Smithsonian Institution to wait on beginning the project has been the need to fund the Air and Space Museum’s renovation, which is expected to cost $1 billion, making it the most costly project the Smithsonian Institution has ever undertaken.
On what to expect from the redevelopment of the 17-acre south campus, architect Bjarke Ingels designed the project with new entrances, skylights, visitor amenities, and the boldest visual move, being the edges of the Enid A. Haupt Garden swept up into the air by almost 30 feet.
In response to the south campus redevelopment, a petition was launched in April 2016 to “save” the Enid A. Haupt Garden, which is planned to be removed. The approximately four-acre garden has been a fixture in the south campus since 1987. The petition ended up gaining 2,552 signatures by its end.
Best Addresses author and former curator for the Smithsonian Institution James M. Goode also wrote an editorial for The Washington Post, arguing for the garden to be maintained rather than destroyed. He described the Enid A. Haupt Garden as "one of the few peaceful and contemplative places on the Mall," adding, "The Smithsonian should have more respect for its Castle and the institution’s own history."
Other criticisms that were voiced at an April 2016 meeting of the NCPC included that the plans don’t fully explain why it is necessary to excavate below the historic Smithsonian Castle and why the plan largely ignores the Arts and Industries Building, as reported by The Washington Post.
For a full rundown of the south campus redevelopment with renderings included, check out this Curbed DC article.
• Smithsonian's $2B south campus plan still a work in progress [Washington Business Journal]
• Smithsonian’s $2 billion plan for area around Castle meets more resistance [The Washington Post]
• What to Expect from Smithsonian's $2B Master Plan [Curbed DC]
• Over 500 Sign Petition to Save Enid A. Haupt Garden [Curbed DC]