Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 72

national museum of
african american
history and culture

INTERIORS AWARDS

72

Civic/Public
Freelon Adjaye Bond /
SmithGroupJJR

Client
Smithsonian Institution

Location
Washington, D.C.

By Deane Madsen
Photography by
Alan Karchmer/NMAAHC

Since opening more than a year ago, the National
up to the present day. Several larger galleries
Museum of African American History and Culture
house oversized artifacts from the collection, such
(NMAAHC) has cemented its position as a cultural
as a rail car from the segregation era and a plane
landmark in Washington, D.C. Located steps away
used by one of the Tuskegee airmen. "There's a flow
from the White House and the Washington Monument that has a certain dynamism to it: You're in a big
on the edge of the National Mall, the museum, which space, then a small space. You're in bright light,
is part of the Smithsonian Institution, connects to its
then it's more subdued," Freelon says. "The story
greater context as it focuses on themes of resilience,
is multilayered and complex: It is sorrowful and
movement, and memory.
jubilant at the same time."
The design team of Freelon Adjaye Bond /
Following the history galleries, the
SmithGroupJJR conceived the multilevel museum
Contemplation Court, a quiet room lit from above
in a restrained, monochromatic palette of metals,
by a ground-level oculus and ringed by a vertical
woods, and monolithic elements. The ground-floor
water feature, offers a place for introspection.
Heritage Hall-surrounded by 15-foot-tall floor-toThe building was designed to permit daylight
ceiling windows on each side-serves as both
in the entire above-ground portion. The upper-level
a physical and emotional transition between the
galleries are pulled back from the facade, allowing
lower-level history galleries and the upper-level
the intricate latticework of bronzed aluminum
culture and community exhibitions. At the top of
panels to filter dappled sunlight into the interstitial
a grand stair, visitors can take in an uninterrupted
circulation space. The panels form a three-tiered
view of the interior's 160-foot height. "You want
corona referencing traditional Yoruban sculpture
to welcome people in. It needs to be open and light,
with a pattern inspired by ornate ironwork found
in terms of perceived weight and with regard to
in the South. Throughout the upper galleries,
natural light coming in," explains Phil Freelon,
lenslike portal windows pierce the corona to direct
who was the lead architect. Perkins+Will has since
views toward specific elements of the cityscape.
acquired Freelon's practice, and he is now design
Focused reflection is another key theme
director for the firm's North Carolina office.
at the NMAAHC. "We thought it was important
Sixty percent of the NMAAHC's
to connect back to that context of the National
379,000-square-foot volume sits below grade
Mall," says Zena Howard, a principal at Perkins+Will
in a triple-height subterranean space. In addition
who was part of the design team with Freelon.
to a 350-seat theater and a dining hall, the lower
"You have the gallery box enshrouded in the corona
floors house exhibitions that detail the Africanform, and you move through that interstitial
American narrative, dating back to the year 1400.
space and are connected back to the context.
Layouts of the history galleries range in size
We modulated the porosity of the panels
to respond to the stories told within, allowing
and privileged views out." c
visitors to imagine the constricted quarters
of a transatlantic slave ship as they walk through
a low-ceilinged dimly lit gallery space.
As visitors proceed upwards through
chronologically organized galleries, they follow
a series of spaces moving forward in time, from
exhibits about slavery to emancipation and
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract Magazine - January/February 2018

Contract Magazine - January/February 2018
Contents
Editorial
Industry News
Product Focus: Set Sail
Product Briefs
designer of the year
legend award
annual interiors awards
Adaptive Reuse
Civic/Public
Education
Entertainment
Healthcare
Historic Restoration
Hotel
Lobby Repositioning
Office: Small
Office: Large
Restaurant
Retail
Showroom
Sustainable
Student
Sources
Ad Index
Bringing Nobu to Canada
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Contents
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Product Focus: Set Sail
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Product Briefs
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - designer of the year
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - legend award
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 55
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 65
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - annual interiors awards
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 67
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Adaptive Reuse
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 69
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 70
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 71
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Civic/Public
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 73
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Education
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Healthcare
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Historic Restoration
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Hotel
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Lobby Repositioning
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 97
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Office: Small
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 102
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 103
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Office: Large
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 105
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Restaurant
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Retail
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 113
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 115
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Showroom
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Sustainable
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 121
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 123
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Student
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 125
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 126
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 128
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Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Sources
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 131
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 132
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 133
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Ad Index
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 135
Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - Bringing Nobu to Canada
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