National Air and Space Museum

Decades after its 1976 opening, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has embarked on a long-planned full building renovation. The goal is to transform one of the world’s most visited museums into a more innovative and engaging visitor experience while also advancing intense security measures. Outcomes will include a new exterior and mechanical systems, increased storage capacity, and updated security.

As geotechnical engineer on the Quinn Evans Architects team, we began working on the project in 2014. Our scope of work required a site subsurface investigation, development of geotechnical characteristics, and provision of preliminary recommendations for foundations and related earthwork during schematic design. Our involvement has been steady through the construction documentation phase.

Due to the renovations, loads on existing foundations increased by as much as 50 percent.  Our preliminary analysis concluded that they  will be capable of supporting the new loads.  We also provided recommendations for new foundations to support the wing-like vestibule structures that will grace the north and south entrances.

The multi-phase, multi-year renovation of the 675,000-square-foot facility—prominently located on the National Mall—is expected to conclude in 2021, with many exciting milestones along the way. Read more about it here.