Smithsonian Institution


Arts & Industries Building Revitalization

Washington, DC

120,000 sf / 11,148 m2

Architecture, Building Systems Consulting, Historic Preservation

Craftsmanship Award , Merit Award - Historical Preservation, Outstanding Project Award for Renovation over $40M

View All Awards


Built in 1881 as America’s first national museum, the Arts and Industries Building is a Romanesque beauty, designed in a Greek cross form with steep pyramidal tower roofs. Despite its grandeur and significance, the building had fallen into disrepair, and was shuttered. The interior had been marred with incongruous updates, and the building envelope and structure suffered damage from the foundation to the roof.

SmithGroupJJR engineering and architectural teams, as part of a joint venture with Ennead Architects, conducted several studies to determine the precise condition of the building, then began the immense task of repairing and stabilizing the building envelope. Crews replaced the magnificent metal and slate roofs, locating matching slate and a matte-finished stainless steel to mimic the original tin. New steel structure was installed to improve seismic, wind, blast and snow-load performance. Inside, teams removed extraneous infill walls and uncovered elegant arched openings to recreate the original sight lines, allowing interiors to bask in natural light. Ornamental metal work was removed, restored and replaced. Once again, this historic landmark can properly grace the National Mall serving generations to come.