Photos courtesy of The New York Times
***I’ve been meaning to write about ‘our’ David Adjaye’s post as Architect for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) –to be built in Washington DC. The Smithsonian Institution chose a team led by David Adjaye, the celebrated Tanzanian-born [to Ghanaian diplomats], -London-based architect, to design the NMAAHC, scheduled to open on the National Mall in 2015…..
I’ve been so busy –and congratulations to David and his team -are way overdue….but the following text should give you more background information…Enjoy…x
Title: Architects Chosen for Black History Museum
By RANDY KENNEDY Published: April 14, 2009
A dream almost a century old moved another step closer to reality on Tuesday as the Smithsonian Institution chose a team led by David Adjaye, the celebrated Tanzanian-born architect, to design the National Museum of African American History and Culture, scheduled to open on the National Mall in Washington in 2015.
The winners of the design competition — which also include the Freelon Group, Davis Brody Bond and SmithGroup — were chosen over five others, including well-known architects like Norman Foster and Diller Scofidio & Renfro.
The museum is expected to cost $500 million and will be built on a site near the Washington Monument after a three-year design period to turn the winners’ idea into a workable blueprint. The museum was established in 2003 by an act of Congress. And although it does not have a building yet, it has already begun collecting artifacts and conducting seminars and other events, including a recent two-day program on the Black Power movement.
Efforts to build a national museum of black history stretch back to the early 1900s, but they were thwarted by political opposition well into the 1990s. Among the opponents was Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina, who in 1994 blocked Senate passage of a bill authorizing the museum, saying Congress should not have to “pony up” for such a project. The museum’s cost will be borne half by the federal government and half through private donations.
Mr. Adjaye, who works in London and recently opened offices in New York and Berlin, is known for his colorful and eclectic designs for the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, as well as for the homes and studios he has designed for artists and celebrity clients like Alexander McQueen, the fashion designer, and Ewan McGregor, the actor.
In accepting the commission, Mr. Adjaye described it as “the dream of my career” and said that the group’s concept for the building — an elevated “mound” dominated by a two-tiered structure that he called a “celebration crown” — focused on the idea of a canopy or porchlike setting for people “to come as a respite, to come and view, to learn.” He said he believed that the primary spirit behind the building, whose interior will be open to skylights at its top, would be one of praise.
“Throughout the history of African-American struggle and celebration, there are these moments of praise,” he said. “It’s for us a deeply spiritual and powerful culture.”
The Freelon Group, led by Philip G. Freelon, will be the architect of record for the project. Based in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., the firm has designed the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture in Baltimore. The inclusion of Davis Brody Bond in the group was bittersweet; J. Max Bond Jr., a partner in the firm, a dean of African-American architects and educators and one of a few black architects of national prominence, died in February.
“It is his legacy and his vision that we stand upon now as we move forward,” Mr. Freelon said.
The announcement of the design winners, at a news conference at the Smithsonian Castle, the oldest building on the Mall, was a reminder of the disagreements that have long simmered over where the museum should be built. Some groups had lobbied heavily for its placement south of the Mall, arguing that the new museum would help bring about a much-needed physical and psychological expansion of the Mall beyond its current boundaries.
But the museum’s advisory council — which includes numerous influential black leaders, including Richard D. Parsons, recently named the chairman of Citigroup; Robert L. Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television; and Oprah Winfrey — recommended the 15-acre site that was eventually chosen: across the street from the National Museum of American History. The council rejected three other possibilities, two of which were not on the Mall. In an interview in 2006 Mr. Johnson said he had told Smithsonian officials that he would resign from the council if the Smithsonian’s board chose a site off the Mall.
“To have relegated this museum to another site,” he said, “when people are looking to it to answer everything from the need for an apology for slavery to reparations, would have been the ultimate dismissal.”
Lonnie G. Bunch, the director of the museum, who also served as chairman of the jury that selected the design team, said at the news conference on Tuesday that “as we moved through this process, one thing was central to our thinking: we continue to be guided by our respect for this wonderfully important site.”
He added, “What I can tell you is, this is a building that I think will sing for all of us, and I think that’s what we wanted.”