A planned $2 billion renovation to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. will renovate one of the National Mall’s most iconic buildings. In November 2014, the Smithsonian revealed plans for large-scale renovations to the institution’s administrative building, commonly known as the Castle because of its resemblance to a familiar medieval structure type.
The extensive renovation plan is considered the largest project for the National Mall in more than a century.
The proposed project includes the addition of two underground levels to the Castle, which will contain a cafe, retail store, auditorium and restrooms. The new floors would be connected to neighboring galleries and museums, including the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the National Museum of African Art and the S. Dillon Ripley Center.
These changes are expected to make these underground museums easier to find for Washington visitors.
The Smithsonian renovation would also create a unified space around the Castle, connecting the Freer Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Arts and Industries Building.
Approval for the plan still needs to be granted by the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts. Construction would likely not commence for another five to seven years. Once underway, the renovation is expected to take up to 20 years to finish.
The National Mall is home to some of the most important structures and national monuments in the United States. The U.S. Capitol Building stands on Capitol Hill at the Mall’s eastern end, with the Lincoln Memorial on the other. In between, the White House shares space with the Washington Monument, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the many buildings that comprise the Smithsonian Institution.
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