The Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of Modern Art is a stunning SOM (Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill) design that sits on the south side of the National Mall in DC. Forget for a moment about the phenomenal art the Hirshhorn houses, the structure itself was designed to serve as a sculptural piece to the existing architecture of the National Mall. And I must say, Gordon Bunshaft’s design does not disappoint. With over 60,000 square feet of interior exhibition space, this cylindrical building creates spaces that flow – ebbing and receding as one traverses the space – moving from artist to artist, piece to piece. The interiors are lovely curved walls that seem endless and yet spatially accomplish the feat of dividing each exhibition into separate moments within the expansive spaces. The renovations of the interior plaster walls are fully underway and I was able to make a site visit a few months back and check on my plasters in action. It is always so exciting to finally put faces to names – the team of designers, architects, and construction engineers with the Smithsonian Institute are top notch and it’s been such a joy to work with them. The re-dedication of the Hirshhorn will occur just in time for the Museum’s 40th anniversary.
One last note – with a background as an urban designer I am always fascinated by the development of a city spatially and the Hirshhorn serves as a very crucial piece to the puzzle as Washington has evolved and will evolve – It serves as a juxtaposition to the other design elements of DC – situated exactly halfway between the US Capitol and the Washington Monument. Contextually, the structure reminds us of the pivotal axis it marks in the layout and development of DC as a highly strategic and detailed urban environment. If you have more interest in the spatial context of this building you can research more here.