DC -- Natl Air and Space Museum -- Board Exhibit: Building and Revitalizing: The National Air and Space Museum:
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REVIT_230108_01.JPG: Building and Revitalizing
The National Air and Space Museum
REVIT_230108_09.JPG: From Tin Shed to "Air and Space"
The Smithsonian aviation collection started in 1876. It expanded substantially after 1920, with many objects housed in the "Tin Shed" behind the Smithsonian Castle. Other objects were displayed in the Arts and Industries Building.
The US Congress established the National Air Museum by charter in 1946, but a permanent home would not be built for three more decades. Smithsonian officials and legislators debated the building plan and design for years. The current site was chosen in 1958, and in 1963 architect Gyo Obata, of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum was selected.
The unique collection broadened with the advent of the Space Age. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson officially changed the name to the National Air and Space Museum. That same year, with Obata's design approved, groundbreaking was set -- and then put on hold.
REVIT_230108_11.JPG: Built for the Bicentennial
The Smithsonian needed to redesign to a smaller appropriation ($40 million) when funds were diverted during the country's escalating involvement in the Vietnam War. Determined to have a museum built by the United States Bicentennial, the second design was approved in 1972, and construction began that November. The Museum officially opened on July 1, 1976.
Obata's reduced design still covered three city blocks and retained the most important ideals: monumental open galleries with smaller enclosed side galleries. He likened the museum to a shopping mall, where visitors could orient easily, access galleries from a central spine, and see everything of interest. Expansive glass windows showcase large-scale collections against backdrops of sky and flora -- and from the outside, visitors can peek in. The exterior reflects the interior rhythm of open and closed spaces: unadorned stone blocks alternate with glass atrium bays. The stone cladding, Tennessee Pink Marble, was selected to echo the National Gallery of Art directly across the National Mall.
The building's modernist architectural style of horizontality, simple massing, and smooth planar walls puts the collection at the forefront, and is complementary to the Neoclassical character and grandeur of the older buildings on the Mall.
REVIT_230108_16.JPG: Building Innovations
The construction used innovative techniques and modern technology.
The stone exterior, made from thin-cut veneer panels, attached to a light steel structural frame, called a curtain wall. Curtain walls can be quickly constructed in a phased progression. This efficiency enabled contractors of various disciplines to work simultaneously. The proof: the majority of the exterior work was completed in two years. The curtain wall also provided a wall cavity which left spaces to install concealed utility systems.
Walls of glass, or glazing, were installed between the stone walls. Bronze-tinted glazing technology achieved a careful balance of exterior visibility of the exhibits while also protecting the collection from damaging ultraviolet rays from sunlight. The original glazing allowed 47% of the light to transmit through the glass.
Despite the strict imitations of budget and timeline, the Museum opened in time for the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations. We welcomed our one millionth visitor with the first 25 days.
"We wanted a museum that would say as much about the present and the future as it would about the past. It would inspire as well as educate."
-- Gyo Obata, Architect
REVIT_230108_17.JPG: Revitalizing for Millions More
The National Air and Space Museum is one of the most visited museums in the world. Since opening, we have attracted more than 350 million visitors. That's a lot of wear and tear on our physical structure! The current revitalization effort will modernize the building site systems in a sustainable way, seeking a US Green Building Council certification of "Gold" in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
We are recladding the building with a granite similar in color, texture, and dimension to the original Tennessee Pink Marble. This choice improves the durability and longevity of the facade components, while maintaining the contextual dialogue with the National Mall setting.
The Museum maintains the world's largest aerospace collection -- more than 65,000 artifacts. Our building keeps the collection visible from the exterior, a highly unusual museum design. We're using the most current glazing technology to remove damaging ultraviolet rays. And in combination with upgraded mechanical systems, the revitalization will provide a proper interior museum environment to preserve and protect the collection -- so the Museum may continue to narrate the greatest achievements of flight far into the future.
REVIT_230108_20.JPG: America by Air gallery, April 2019. Virtually all of the Museum's collections are being removed during construction.
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2023 photos: Equipment this year: My old staples the Fuji XS-1 and Nikon D7000. In April, I bought a Google Pixel 7 Pro since DigitalReview.Com said it was the top camera smartphone and it wasn't an iPhone (so it's not evil). In June, I took the plunge and bought a mirrorless Nikon Z-5 camera.
The only trip so far this year:
(May) a visit to see Dad and Dixie in Asheville, NC and visit with some friends in Brevard.
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