Since 2015, Billionaire philanthropists Michael and Lowell Milken, the siblings behind the Milken Family Foundation, have planned a museum only steps from the White House. If all goes according to plan, their proposed Milken Museum and Conference Center (formerly known as the Museum of the American Educator) will take the place of a redeveloped Riggs National Bank, located at 1503-1505 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, as well as the adjacent bank building at 1501 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. In a new application to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA), the Milken siblings are seeking relief from rear yard requirements.
According to the BZA application, the purpose of the museum is for it to highlight “the critical importance of education and learning in contemporary society.” It will recognize notable teachers and offer interactive exhibits. The architect behind the project is Shalom Baranes Associates.
The name of the museum is still being discussed. Other options include “Celebrate Learning Experience,” “Milken Museum for Inspired Learning,” “The Milken Center for Advancing Human Potential,” and “Milken Museum of Learning and Opportunity.”
While built in c. 1899, Riggs National Bank has experienced many changes since its construction. Appleton P. Clark, the architect behind the Embassy of Syria, designed an addition to the structure around 1922. Afterwards, interior balconies, rooftop mechanical equipment, and a fire escape were installed.
The building at 1501 Pennsylvania Avenue NW is a National Register and D.C.-listed historic property that was originally designed for the American Security & Trust Company bank in circa 1905. Currently, it is occupied by Bank of America.
The plans to redevelop the properties include having the 1501 building support museum operations and serve as both a temporary exhibit area and event convening space. Both buildings would be linked together, and a new atrium space would be constructed at the rear of the building. The planned mechanical structure atop the main roof of the 1503-1505 building has been eliminated.
• Billionaire philanthropists to transform historic D.C. bank into a museum celebrating teachers [Washington Business Journal]
• A Historic Bank May Become D.C.’s Newest Museum [Curbed DC]