British architect Richard Rogers and his London-based firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RHSP) saw construction break ground on the not-so-well hidden International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. Situated on L’Enfant Plaza, the 140,000-square-foot museum is part of wider effort to reinvigorate the area. It will replace the current 19th Century building located in Penn Quarter.
According to a press release from RHSP, the new museum will offer a “glass veil” that will be draped in front of a “enclosed black box exhibition space.” This will let the buildings circulation be viewed from both interior and exterior perspectives, something that the architects say will contribute “new energy along 10th Street.” The “sense of veil” and “black box” will also be visual cues evoking the secrecy and mystery associated with espionage.
“Behind this veil, the prominent facade of the box angles out over the street and public space to one side, breaking the building line to create a disruptive landmark at the crest of 10th Street, visible from the National Mall at one end and Banneker Park at the other,” the firm said.
Sketches from RHSP showing the spatial arrangement and circulatory aspects (Courtesy RHSP)
In addition to this, the new building will also expand exhibit and educational spaces, including a theater and “unique” event spaces. The aforementioned event spaces and a roof terrace will be located above a double-height lobby.
Working with the Malrite Company from Cleveland, who founded the museum, the District was able to make sure that the museum stayed in D.C. “As a Navy veteran, I, along with my family, take pride in setting the stage for the International Spy Museum to grow,” said Milton Maltz, the founder of The Malrite Company. “We consider it essential to ensuring the contributions of the dedicated men and women who serve in our intelligence agencies. They are recognized for the invaluable roles they’ve played in winning wars and protecting Americans at home and around the globe.”
Sketches from RHSP (Courtesy RHSP)
“The international spy museum has long been a destination for residents and visitors, finding innovative ways to keep us connected with our past,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “The new museum will be a welcome addition to southwest as we continue to attract businesses and expand economic opportunity.”
The museum is due to open at some point in 2018, however, the museum’s lease at its current location at 800 F Street NW is set to end in 2017.