CFA 15/SEP/11-5


National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
United States

Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of American History
Relocate Calder sculpture and restore reflecting pool
Review Type


Dear Ms. Trowbridge:

In its meeting of 15 September, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the concept design for the relocation of the Alexander Calder stabile Gwenfritz and the rehabilitation of the reflecting pool on the west side of the National Museum of American History, and approved the proposal with several comments.

In their support for the Smithsonian's plan to relocate the sculpture to its original location in the pool, the Commission members recommended that every effort should be made to avoid suggesting the character of a private residential swimming pool. They accepted the option of the smaller–sized stone aggregate finish for the basin and recommended the use of a darker color for this surface, suggesting that it would not only make the pool appear deeper but also offer better reflectivity on the water surface to highlight the sculpture in the center of the pool.

The Commission also recommended using linear lighting fixtures instead of point–source lights to improve upon the original lighting design by providing more diffuse lighting for the sculpture and plaza. The Commission members recommended working with an independent lighting designer to develop a modern lighting system for the pool, sculpture, and plaza.

The Commission requested a revised concept submission that includes the details for the restoration of the pool and for the changes to the lower plaza. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.


Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Ann Trowbridge, Associate Director for Planning
Office of Planning and Project Management
Smithsonian Institution
P.O. Box 37012, MRC 511
Washington, DC 20013–7012

cc: Marc Pachter, Interim Director, National Museum of American History
Don Jones, EwingCole