Designed by David Adjaye (in collaboration with Philip Freelon and Smithgroup) and completed in 2016.
The museum exhibits are divided into two general areas, contemporary culture and the history and vicissitudes of African Americans. The contemporary are displayed at the main volume — a glazed cube protected by the bronze architectural scrim that forms the ’corona’; the main volume visible from the National Mall. In contrast, the historical exhibits are gracefully displayed deep underground — not as if hiding them — but as a powerful remembrance of what — still to this day — lies buried deeply in American History.
The surrounding landscape was designed by Gustafson, Guthrie & Nichol of GGN. The grounds not only becomes a plinth where the museum rests but also creates a solemn space to reflect on what was viewed inside.
Designed in 1967 by architect Louis I. Kahn and finished in 1972 in collaboration with landscape architects Harriet Pattison and George Patton; and structural engineer August Komendant.
The museum can be accessed through either the lawn and the beautiful mass of yaupon hollies trees out in the entrance courtyard or the rear parking lot (to the East) one story below the main floor.
Either way you enter, the spatial sequence of the building is magnificently clearly laid out.
The museum is comprised of 16 parallel halls covered by 20 feet wide by 100 feet long post-tensioned reinforced concrete shells (or vaults). Each thin vault is supported by four reinforced concrete columns which can be visible throughout the building.
Entrance courtyard with yaupon hollies and opened porches that overlook the water pools.
Main vestibule looking towards the northern courtyard and main stairs connecting to the Eastern vestibule.
The interior curving shells have light slots that allows for natural light to enter the galleries. Stainless steel reflectors bounce the natural light difuminating it throughout the curving vaults illuminating the gallery interiors with a soft well-distributed natural light.
I was recently selected to present a paper on Field Notes during the Vernacular Architectural Forum, which took place the first week of June in Durham, North Carolina. As part of the event – as it is customarily – there are two intense days of touring around preselected areas to experience first hand vernacular examples and communities.
Here are a few sketches I made during those days.
West Grove Friends Meeting House (1915) Snow Camp, Alamance County
Old Brick Church [Clapp Church] (1813 original, reconstruction ca. 1840-1946)
Spatial axonometric, floor plan and section of Old Brick Church [Clapp Church] (1813 original, reconstruction ca. 1840-1946)
Mendenhall Store; Jamestown, Guilford County
Mendenhall Barn; Jamestown, Guilford County
O’Briant Grocery Store, 613 Holloway St.
Lloyd House (1956); 126 Nelson St.
Here are some sketches I made while assisting my wife and her team of students when documenting the Casa Cautiño in Guayama. This was the 1st time our students entered the prestigious Charles E. Peterson Drawing Competition and won 1st Prize for their field notes and measured drawings. (For winning drawings and information see previous post and http://www.nps.gov/hdp/competitions/Peterson_winners.htm)
Floor plan (partial, a 20th century addition (right) is ommitted from the drawing)
Spatial axon illustrating the spatial arrangement.
During the past summer days my wife Claudia and I led a team of students to prepare field notes and measured drawings of this turn-of-the-19th-century masterpiece designed by Alfredo B. Wiechers.
For the 2nd consecutive time- our students have been awarded 1st place at the Charles E. Peterson Prize Measured Drawing Student Competition (2015 & 2014). The competition is co-sponsored annually by the National Park Service, Heritage Documentation Program, The Athenaeum of Philadelphia and the American Institute of Architects.
For more information about the Prize: http://www.nps.gov/hdp/competitions/Peterson_winners.htm
Here are a few sketches I made while assisting the team of students prepare their field notes and documentation drawings.
Following the 19th century tradition I made a composition simultaneously illustrating both interior and exterior views of the dining room area.
Although I like perspective drawings I prefer these analytical drawings. Even if too personal, (meaning that they are really not intended for others), these drawings are essential tools for helping me understand the spatial configuration (and relations) of given building.
For illustrating purposes, I have included this sketch of the main façade I made (and posted) a few years ago.