No new buildings will be constructed for the Smithsonian Mall, but current ones will be updated.
The Smithsonian Mall, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States, is going to get a $2 billion makeover.
A design by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels would renovate the south end of the Mall, which includes the Smithsonian Castle, as well as improvements to the Freer Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the currently shuttered Arts and Industries Building.
No new buildings are proposed; rather, the renovation is to upgrade the current structures, including the Castle, which was built in 1855.
The Smithsonian Castle houses the Smithsonian administration office, but currently offers little other than a rest stop between other buildings. The renovation will include restoring the Great Hall exhibition space there, as well as adding a two-level subterranean expansion that will contain a gift shop and underground entrances to the National Museum of African Art and the Asian art-specific Arthur M. Sackler building.
The Castle will also be reinforced in case of earthquake; a 5.8 quake in 2011 caused several offices to be damaged due to plaster walls and old ceilings to crack.
The work would begin in 2016 and would take up to 20 years to complete, as work would be done in portions rather than the entire south end being worked on at once. The project will also include a new central utility plant that will cut the campus energy consumption by a projected 34 percent.
“We believe this plan holds the potential to guide the Smithsonian South mall campus into the future while remaining firmly rooted in its heritage,’’ Ingels said. “This is probably the most heavily regulated piece of real estate on planet Earth.
Funding for the project will be paid for with a combination of public and private funds.
The Smithsonian is a group of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research centers. It is estimated that 30 million visitors go to the Smithsonian annually.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.