Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum/Carnegie Mansion, New York City

Photo By Van Stolatis Photography

Occupying the former home of Andrew Carnegie, the 112-year-old landmark museum was in need of a major restoration. Work included adding 7,000 sq ft by converting the museum's third-floor library into contemporary galleries and moving the library into two adjacent townhouses. The team also upgraded infrastructure at both the mansion and the townhouses.

The team's work also included installing new freight elevators; building a registrar's office and art conservation lab; and renovating the main stairway accessing the gallery floors and cafés.

One of the team's crucial tasks was conserving the museum's existing ceiling while installing new lighting, sprinkler systems, power and art hanging systems. This called for detailed processes including coordination between conservators and team members and meticulous documentation.

The job also called for careful removal of floors as well as the careful drilling of holes up through existing plaster and wood ceilings to locate specific points on the floor above. The team installed more than 6,000 ft of pipe and conduit beneath the new floors, sometimes working within just 2 in. to 4 in. of space between existing concrete arches and the new subfloor. The sprinkler pipes were boxed out, and the roughing encased in concrete. New flooring was installed to match the original historic floors.

Installing a new elevator core within the existing building also proved challenging. One of the structure's main support columns was removed, requiring temporary footings and shoring while new steel was being installed. All of the new mechanical systems had to be rerouted around the new core.

The project was completed with four months added to the original schedule to allow for additional upgrades.

Key Players

Owner Smithsonian Institute

Construction Manager Jacobs GBNA

General Contractor E.W. Howell Co. LLC

Architect/Engineer Beyer Blinder Belle

Structural Engineer Robert Silman Associates P.C.

MEP Engineer Joseph Loging & Associates

Lighting Designer SBLD Studio

Security Consultant Ducibella Venter & Santore

On Site Security Epic Security Corp.

Pest Control Radius Pest Management LLC

Preconstruction Surveying John V. Dinan Associates Inc.