CFA 17/NOV/16-5


10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC
United States

Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of Natural History
Review Type
Revised concept
Previous Review


Dear Dr. Johnson:

In its meeting of 17 November, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a revised design for the railings as part of its broader review of modifications to the Mall entrance of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History on Madison Drive, NW. The Commission provided the following comments for the development of the design.

The Commission members commented favorably on the concept of figural metal railing panels for their potential beauty and elegance. However, consistent with the previous review, they expressed concern that the proposed naturalistic grass pattern may appear unsophisticated if not carefully designed and fabricated. They also continued to raise questions regarding the details and dimensional modeling of this design, proposed to be constructed of back-to-back cast white bronze panels. For further development of the design, they suggested more variation in the depth and density of the grass pattern, and simplifying the railing configurations on the intermediate landings of the ramps.

The Commission looks forward to reviewing a revised concept submission, which should include a mockup of a segment of the railing assembly. As always, the staff is available to assist you.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Dr. Kirk Johnson, Director
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
MRC 106, P.O. Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012

cc: Alyson Steele, Quinn Evans Architects
Claire Bedat, AECOM