The National Medal of Honor Museum
Architect: Safdie Architects
Client: National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation
Location: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
The National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation has unveiled a design by Safdie Architects for the United States’ first-ever museum dedicated to telling the story of the Medal of Honor and those who have earned it.
Located at Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, on the east side of Charleston Harbor, the museum’s site has as its most prominent built neighbors the cable-stayed Ravenel Bridge and the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, which itself is now a museum. Safdie Architects took these two icons of the region as contextual inspiration for its design. The concrete and glass structure has a similar gray-blue color as the Yorktown. Perched over its wetland site on pylons, the building rises to 128 feet high, standing above the surrounding trees and matching the height of the aircraft carrier. Five galleries radiate out to form a central atrium, levering out in section and creating a sense of tension and strength, much like that expressed by the bridge. Panels in the skylit ceiling of the atrium form a five-pointed star, the symbol of the Medal of Honor.
The museum’s entry is housed in a green-roofed pavilion building that also accommodates a 240-seat auditorium, museum shop, curatorial and archival space, and administrative offices for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, and the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation. A 140-seat chapel overlooks the sea at the tip of the site, connecting to the museum by a two-level pedestrian bridge.
Silver Spring, Maryland–based Gallagher & Associates is planning and designing the exhibition spaces. The museum is expected to cost $98 million and to open in early 2018.