Fact Sheets

Design Firms

September 1, 2016

The design team for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is a collaboration of four architecture firms forming a single cohesive team—Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroupJJR. Gustafson Guthrie Nichol is the landscape architecture firm, and Ralph Appelbaum Associates is the exhibit designer.

The Freelon Group

The Freelon Group leads the design team for the National Museum of African American History and Culture as the lead architect and architect of record, and it has contractual responsibility for overseeing the project from start to finish. The firm is known for designing cultural and civic spaces, including The National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta and Emancipation Park in Houston. Phil Freelon, together with the late Max Bond, initiated the design team in 2007 and led the project’s progression from planning and conceptual design through construction. The Freelon Group, now part of the global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will, was responsible for the museum’s above-grade spaces, including the Central Hall, the orientation theater and the “Explore More” education center. Freelon was instrumental in the design and selection of furniture and fixtures for the majority of the museum’s interior gallery and visitor spaces and led the sustainable-design effort in pursuit of LEED Gold certification.

Adjaye Associates

Adjaye Associates was established in June 2000 by founder and principal architect, David Adjaye. The firm has offices in London, New York and Accra and has completed work in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Two of the practice’s largest commissions are the design of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Moscow School of Management. Further projects range in scale from private houses, exhibitions and temporary pavilions to major arts centers, civic buildings and masterplans. Renowned for an eclectic material and color palette and a capacity to offer a rich civic experience, the buildings differ in form and style yet are unified by their ability to generate new typologies and to reference a wide cultural discourse.

Davis Brody Bond

Davis Brody Bond is a founding member of the design team working on the museum. Davis Brody Bond is responsible for the design and development of more than 60 percent of the museum’s 400,000-square-foot program, which is predominantly located beneath the grounds of the National Mall. The centerpiece is the 50,000-square-foot history gallery and accompanying contemplative court, a 350-seat concert-class theater, the café, the changing exhibition gallery and the curatorial, collections and back-of-house spaces of the museum. Davis Brody Bond is also the designer of the internationally acclaimed National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center.

SmithGroupJJR

SmithGroupJJR serves as the associated design/construction architect for the museum. It developed and coordinated the design and construction of the entire building enclosure, efficiently resolving challenges that arose with the foundation system design and the exterior. The integrated architecture and engineering firm has a 35-year history of working with the Smithsonian on many of its largest and most complex building projects. Before the National Museum of African American History and Culture project, SmithGroupJJR was the lead architect for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. SmithGroupJJR, founded in 1853, is the nation’s oldest architecture and engineering firm. Today, it employs a staff of 1,000 spanning 10 office locations in the U.S. and China.

Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN) is the landscape architecture firm for the museum. Based in Seattle, GGN’s recent and current work includes CityCenterDC, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus and Seattle’s Pike-Pine Renaissance Streetscape Design Vision. GGN was the recipient of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s National Design Award for Landscape Architecture in 2011. The firm’s project awards include American Society of Landscape Architects National Awards of Excellence, American Society of Landscape Architects and American Institute of Architects Honor Awards for Design, Tucker Design Awards and Great Places Awards from the Environmental Design Research Association.

Ralph Appelbaum Associates

Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) is the exhibit designer for 82,000 square feet of the museum’s inaugural exhibitions, composed of 12 galleries spanning 400 years of history, community and culture. RAA is a multidisciplinary firm specializing in the planning and design of museums, exhibits, educational environments and visitor attractions. A family-owned company founded in 1978, RAA’s portfolio includes more than 700 completed commissions in more than 40 countries.

Headquartered in New York with branch offices in London, Moscow, Berlin and Beijing, RAA has a staff of more than 150 employees, including creative teams of designers, architects, content developers and media specialists who serve public institutions, private foundations and governments in all regions of the world. Its projects have won every major national and international award for design and communication, including the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s National Design Award and the ArtFund Prize, in addition to more than 300 other commendations.

The design team for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is a collaboration of four architecture firms forming a single cohesive team—Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroupJJR. Gustafson Guthrie Nichol is the landscape architecture firm, and Ralph Appelbaum Associates is the exhibit designer.

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SI-236A-2016



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