August 29, 2016

Davis Brody Bond Unveils Designs for the National Museum of African American History and Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Photography by Alan Karchmer. 

Davis Brody Bond has completed work on the interiors for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opens on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on September 24th.

DBB’s late principal J. Max Bond received the commission in the late 1990s and helped devise the museum’s Master Facility Planning and Program Study. DBB went on to design over 60% of the museum’s 400,000 square foot program, including its curatorial and collection spaces.

“We are both humbled and honored to collaborate on a project which demands excellence on every level,” says DBB’s Washington Office director Rob Anderson. “To be entrusted with designing a museum in America’s front lawn fills everyone with pride. Yet the true credit goes to the people that lived history, along with its caretaker, founding director Dr. Lonnie G. Bunch III. We’ve simply translated his words and vision into a physical space and material.”

The NMAAHC’s atrium, by Davis Brody Bond. Photography by Alan Karchmer. 

NMAAHC’s History Gallery offers 50,000 square feet of display space, with polished concrete floors, acoustic walls and ceilings, and glass handrails. Cherry planter boxes pop up around the cafeteria, which offers more exhibition space with back-painted glass cases. A red oak-floored theater nestles 350 seats inside Rulon wood panels and bronze trim, while the Contemplative Court and Atrium boast bold accents of Kenya Black Marble.

“We are one firm of many that have contributed to this historic project,” Anderson says, “and it’s taken everyone’s efforts to accomplish what you’ve seen to date.” Those firms include lead architect and architect of record The Freelon Group, Adjaye Associates, and associated design/construction architect SmithGroupJJR. Gustafson Guthrie Nichol was tasked with the landscape architecture, while Ralph Appelbaum Associates serves as exhibit designer.

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