The Smithsonian broke ground for its 19th museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 in an invitation-only ceremony on the National Mall.  A stunning design is portrayed for the building.  We look forward to the landscape and hardscape plans to see the use of natural stone pavers, perhaps Porphyry. Occupying the last available space on the National Mall, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will be situated prominently between the National Museum of American History and15th Street, next to the Washington Monument.


Exterior Rendering resized 600 Image: Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup

An exterior architectural rendering of the forthcoming Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., expected to open in 2015.

Design and Construction

The construction of the museum will begin in summer 2012 and is expected to take three years.  The museum’s design is the result of an intense collaboration among Freelon and two other architects: David Adjaye and the late Max Bond. They came together in 2008 as Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup to compete for the design. They would prevail over 21 other star-studded teams with names such as Richard Meier, I.M. Pei and Norman Foster.

Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup was selected as the museum’s architectural and engineering firm in April 2009, and Clark/Smoot/Russell was selected as the construction firm in July 2011. The museum is expected to cost about $500 million, with half of the funds being raised by the museum and half of the funds provided by Congress.

Photo Credit Smithsonian Institution 1 resized 600When it opens, the 380,000-square-foot museum will have a three-tiered bronze “Corona,” or crown. Other design elements have been chosen to mirror the faith, hope and resiliency of the African American spirit. The museum also will be designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification. Sustainable elements in the museum will include solar hot water panels on the roof and a geothermal groundwater system.

“With this groundbreaking we move closer toward creating a museum to make manifest the dreams of many generations,” said Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the museum. “The structure about to rise on the National Mall will be a signature building, and the museum it houses will give us a way to ensure thatAmericaunderstands the African American experience as a history that has shaped us all.”  Photo Credit – Smithsonian Institution


Porphyry’s composition determines its high compression strength, resistance to stains, slip resistance, and high freeze/thaw ratings.  The stone is the most popular paver in Europe, and is favored for its flexibility in design, beauty, durability and low maintenance requirements. ADA Compliant Porphyry pavers are also adaptable to a permeable paving set. The stone is by far one of the most durable pavers in the world.  These materials are available from Milestone Imports.   –