Yesterday, April the 15th, a winning design was finally selected for long-awaited National Museum of African American History and Culture to be located across the street from the Washington Monument. The firms of Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup were selected as the winners despite much public sentiment that the Moody Nolan/Predock design was by far the most dynamic and aesthetically pleasing of all submissions. The 5 acre, $500 million project is now set to break ground mid 2012 and be completed in 2015.
"Their vision and spirit of collaboration moved all members of the design competition jury," said the museum's founding 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 the city."
Bunch has repeatedly stated that the core theme to be followed by each firm was the African American experience in the United States through slavery and emancipation, to politics, music, sports and spirituality.
The wining design concept was about "celebration and praise" said Adjaye, 42, a Tanzanian-born, London-based architect. "We are celebrating an incredible journey and looking to the future." The 105 foot design shows a square building, held by four columns with an open first floor. Two superstructures, which are shaped like crowns and inspired by an African headdress, top the entry-level porch. Above crowns, that Adjaye described as "Coronas" and where designed to hold most of the exhibition galleries, is a roof garden. The four-story design has several key vantage points and view ports to take advantage of the iconic and historic sights along the Mall.
The entrances are on Constitution Avenue and Madison Drive, on the Mall side, bringing all visitors into the open first floor. On the Constitution side is a canal, representing the Washington Channel, where slaves and supplies were transported.
In my march 30th post I briefly talked about the six designs that were under consideration at the time which included, Foster and Partners/URS, a joint venture, with the Foster firm as architect and URS handling the engineering design. Other teams are: Devrouax & Purnell, I.M. Pei, Moshe Safdie and Associates, Moody Nolan/Predock and of course Freelon Adjaye Bond. At the time, the design by Moody Nolan/Predock was considered by many to be the better design that is why the selection of Freelon Adjaye Bond by the Smithsonian came as such a surprise. I am quite disappointed with this choice as the design seems to be the least interesting of the six but I guess its location does not not exactly allow for very organic forms.
Details of article obtained from Jaqueline Trescott's "Designer chosen for Black History Museum"
Images obtained from: www.washigntonpost.com