Smithsonian South Mall Campus Master Plan

Smithsonian South Mall Campus Master Plan

The Smithsonian Institution proposes a radical make-over of its South Mall Campus, including the Haupt Garden and structures in the Quadrangle behind the Castle Building facing Independence Avenue.  The Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) developed four alternatives for a master plan of this area.  None of the alternatives provides for restoration of the Haupt Garden; three alternatives call for the demolition of three pavilions; and the preferred alternative explicitly proposes demolition of the following architecturally and historically significant structures and landscapes on the site:

  • The three entrance pavilions designed by noted architect Jean Paul Carlhian for the National Museum of African Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and the S. Dillon Ripley Center;
  • The Victorian Enid A. Haupt Garden designed by landscape architect Lester Collins; and
  • The Renwick Gates, constructed from James Renwick’s original 1849 design, now the entrance to the garden.
Haupt Garden today.

Haupt Garden today.

The Smithsonian proposes to replace the Haupt Garden and Carlhian pavilions with an inappropriate-to-the-historic-context large, flat multi-functional area with futuristic skylight  entrances giving direct access to a new basement level Visitor Services area and the Museum of African Art and Sackler Gallery below ground.  The Smithsonian’s rationale for the demolition is to allow repair of the membrane roof beneath the Garden that covers the underground spaces, and to improve visitor access and enjoyment. The Committee of 100, however, does not believe these needs justify or require destruction of these historically significant

Smithsonian rendering showing plan to replace the Haupt Garden and Carlhian pavilions with an inappropriate-to-the-historic-context large, flat multi-functional area with futuristic skylight entrances.

Smithsonian rendering showing plan to replace the Haupt Garden and Carlhian pavilions with an inappropriate-to-the-historic-context large, flat multi-functional area with futuristic skylight entrances.

The master plan also contemplates major modifications to other historically significant buildings on the South Mall Campus: Freer Gallery of Art, Castle Building, and Hirshhorn Museum.  Modifications include a new entrance to the Freer on the West wall, and demolition of the Gordon Bunshaft-designed walls on the Hirshhorn.  Also planned are extensive underground facilities with above-ground skylights, and a major seismic retrofitting of the Castle Building itself.

Plan D

Alternative Plan D that shows the planned demolition.

The Smithsonian has hosted six public meetings as consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and under the National Environmental Policy Act, to refine the master plan.  The Committee of 100 participated in and offered comments at these meetings as a consulting party.  We are waiting for the Smithsonian’s answers to the many substantial questions posed by us and the public at these meetings and in comments online.  Additional remarks will be posted as information from the Smithsonian becomes available.

 In the News:

Don’t destroy the Smithsonian’s beloved Haupt Garden.” James M. Goode. The Washington Post, March 20, 2016.

Mall Plan Scrutinized.” Peggy McGlone.  Washington Post. April 9, 2016

Smithsonian Should Set Standard on Public Signs, Not Fight Oversight.” Philip Kennicott.  The Washington Post.  December 4, 2015.

Documents

icon 2017-05-09 C100 Letter Spofford Section 106 Consultation Meeting On Proposed South Mall Campus Master Plan
May 9, 2017, Stephen A. Hansen
The Committee of 100 on the Federal City offers these comments on the new Alternative F unveiled at the May 3 pubic meeting as well as on continuing discussions and conceptual iterations of the proposed Smithsonian South Mall Campus Master Plan. While we find many aspects of the Plan laudable, we remain firmly opposed to demolition of the Haupt Garden and the Carlhian-designed pavilions in the Quadrangle Historic District, which was recently designated a DC landmark by unanimous vote of the Historic Preservation Review Board.
icon C100 Press Release Smithsonian’s Haupt Garden Declared Historically Significant
May 2, 2017, Kate Perry
The DC Historic Preservation Review Board has unanimously approved the application by the Committee of 100 on the Federal City for local landmark designation of the “Quadrangle Historic District” that abuts the Smithsonian Castle and includes the Enid Haupt Garden, the Renwick Gates, and the entrance pavilions to the Sackler Gallery, the Museum of African Art, and the Ripley Center.  The Smithsonian is considering a plan that would demolish all of these structures.
icon C100 Letter Garden Club Of America Enid A Haupt Garden
July 18, 2016, Nancy MacWood
We are grateful for The Garden Club of America’s interest in the historic Enid A. Haupt Garden and its preservation.  Your featuring the proposed destruction of the garden on The Garden Club’s website home page was welcome news to the several organizations nationally and locally that are also opposing the demolition of the garden.
icon AOIDC Smithsonian South Campus Plan Opposition
April 1, 2016, William N. Brown
Although we are supportive of efforts to rehabilitate the Smithsonian Castle and, perhaps, redesign the entrances to the Sackler Gallery, the National Museum of Asian Art and the Ripley Center, we believe that these initiatives can be accomplished without the extreme changes that would removed the custom-designed and compatible Renwick Gates and destroy the Haupt Gardens.
icon C100 Call To Action - Oppose Smithsonian Proposal To Destroy The Haupt Garden
April 08, 2016, Historic Preservation Subcommittee
CALL TO ACTION: Oppose Smithsonian Proposal to Destroy the Haupt Garden
icon ACHP Response To C100 Regarding SI South Mall Campus Master Plan
February 19, 2016, Reid J. Nelson
At the urging of C100 and other consulting parties, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) determined that it should enter into the process to ensure that the procedural issues raised by consulting parties are properly addressed, and that the Smithsonian meaningfully considers alternatives to adverse effects on two National Historic Landmarks and other properties potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
icon C100 Letter NCPC South Mall Campus Master Plan EIS
February 18, 2016, Nancy MacWood
The C100 has responded to the National Capital Planning Commission's Federal Register Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental impact statement on the Smithsonian Institution's proposed South Mall Campus Master Plan.
icon C100 DCPL South Mall Master Plan Ensure Historic Accuracy
February 19, 2016, Nancy MacWood, Rebecca Miller
The Committee of 100 on the Federal City (C100) and the DC Preservation League (DCPL) urge the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to enter consultation on the Smithsonian Institution’s proposed South Mall Campus Master Plan to ensure resolution of the Plan’s potential adverse impacts on National Historic Landmark buildings, buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places (National Register), and potentially eligible historic properties.
icon 2015-12-05-C100-Letter-Smithsonian-South-Mall-Campus-Master-Plan
December 5, 2015, Nancy MacWood, Rebecca Miller, Robert Nieweg
C100, DC Preservation Leauge, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation calls on Smithsonian Institution to fully comply with Section 106 requirements.

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