Washington, District of Columbia
430,000 gsf 40,000 m2
Architecture, Engineering, Interior Architecture, Lighting Design
Developing a design for the new Museum of the Bible came with several intriguing challenges. The client wished to create a singular, memorable visitor experience focusing on the history, narrative, and impact of the Bible, supported by a collection of biblical antiquities, rare texts, and other artifacts. For its site, the museum founders selected an imposing refrigerated warehouse large enough to receive train cars. As a newly designated 1922 landmark within blocks of the National Mall, renovations to the “flat-iron” building were subject to intense scrutiny from multiple review boards.
The building remains an important element in the new design; along with a new vertical infill addition and a rooftop addition, the design creates a compelling setting befitting the museum’s collection. The train portal is reopened to serve as the museum’s colossally scaled entrance. It is punctuated by a stained glass window displaying a portion of the Great Isaiah Scroll, framed by bronze panels recalling the cold-press type of the Gutenberg Bible. The internal train loading bay is recast as a main lobby arcade, with monumental Jerusalem stone columns and LED displays dominating the 40-foot-high, 140-foot-long ceiling. Atop the building, a scroll of glazing clads a two-story addition housing a theater and ballroom, offering panoramic views of the U.S. Capitol and National Mall.
Architect David Greenbaum speaks to The Washington Post
SmithGroupJJR’s David Greenbaum discusses the challenges of building a museum about the Bible
Museum of the Bible in Architectural Record
Architectural Record discusses the Museum of the Bible’s design
Museum of the Bible: Collections & Content
Steve Green, chairman of the Museum of the Bible’s board, discusses his plans for the museum with the Washington Post