National Museum of African American History and Culture • Smithsonian • Washington, D.C, • Clark/Smoot/Russell Joint Venture, Ajaye Associates & SmithGroupJJR
To stay true to the master plan of The Mall, to bridge the old world with the new, and to cover the vast amount of history and culture for this space; 60% of the museum is actually located below ground making it the deepest museum on The Mall at 70ft. deep (21 m). This allows for five stories above ground and five stories below ground. Slated for LEED Gold certification, the first Smithsonian ever to achieve such a status, the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s (NMAAHC) exterior skin helps this impressive project receive this status. Inspired by the three-tiered crop used in Yoruban art from West Africa, the ornamental bronze-colored metal lattice pays homage to the intricate ironwork that was crafted by enslaved African Americans in the South. The lattice work itself opens the building to streaming exterior daylight and can be modulated according to the season. Allowing for a historical and emotional journey, the interior is characterized by vast, column-free spaces, and a material palette made up of pre-cast concrete, timber and a glazed skin that sits within the bronze lattice work. Integrating its architectural form with its purpose and function, the NMAAHC tells a story, the American story, through the lens of African American history and culture.