Contract - July 2009 - (Page 68)

process David Adjaye, Max Bond, Philip Freelon (left) and Hal Davis of SmithGroup (pictured, left to right) used their respective skills, backgrounds, and expertise to deliver the winning concept for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The project’s design concept is based on a crown-like sculpture atop a stone base, with a soaring central atrium open to skylights on the interior (renderings opposite courtesy of Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup). dream team Philip Freelon, David Adjaye, Max Bond, and Hal Davis of SmithGroup found collaboration key to landing one of the most coveted commissions of the decade—the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture By Jan Lakin While the idea of a national African American heritage museum was first raised almost a century ago, legislation passed in 2003 will finally lead to the development of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on the Mall in Washington, D.C. In April 2009, the Smithsonian announced that a team of four firms, Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup, was chosen to design the new museum. It’s not a stretch to see this group of designers as a veritable dream team: the Freelon Group and Davis Brody Bond are two prominent African American firms with significant cultural projects under their belts; David Adjaye is quickly making his mark as a rising international star; and SmithGroup has experience with complex projects as well as prior Smithsonian commissions. Yet what makes this team remarkable is not so much who they are, but how they came together and how they were able to collaborate using their respective skills, backgrounds, and expertise to deliver the winning design concept. The journey for the design team has not been without challenges. Their competition was a formidable roster of five other finalists, including Foster & Partners, Moshe Safdie, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. There were questions about the team’s abili- ty to collaborate—a key issue for the Smithsonian. How well would the team’s lead designer, David Adjaye, a Tanzanian living in the United Kingdom, function with his American counterparts? Would he dominate the team as a star designer? Also, was four firms too many for an effective working relationship? Then, tragically, Max Bond—who with Philip Freelon had been steadfastly tracking the museum project for many years, and who is widely known as “the dean of African American architecture”—died during the competition. In interviewing the finalists, museum director Lonnie Bunch was concerned about what Bond’s loss meant for the Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup team. “Max had been the personification of collaboration,” according to Bunch. “I wanted to know how Max’s spirit would be carried on by the others.” Knowing this was a project of a lifetime and that joining forces would increase their chances of designing the museum, Max Bond and Phil Freelon had already teamed up in 2007 to lead the programming phase for the project, with a gentleman’s agreement to jointly pursue the design commission.When the design competition was announced, Bond and Freelon strengthened the team by adding Hal Davis at SmithGroup. Skunk Works: a term used in technical fields to describe a group within an organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects. 68 contract july 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - July 2009

Contract - July 2009
Guest Editorial
Resources: Alpha Workshops
Green Building Goes Global
The Collaborative Workplace
All For Fun
Group Practice
Caring Collaborator
Life is a Circus
Cohesive Spaces in Public Places
On the Landscape
Castles in the Sand
Face to Face
Heart and Soul
Project Management
Dream Team
Ad Index

Contract - July 2009