Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Selldorf Architects will co-develop an upcoming modernization project for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden  interior and plaza amid an uptick in visitors. It will be the final phase of a three-part revitalization for the distinctive circular Smithsonian facility on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. that opened in 1974 and houses a modern art collection.

The selection was announced Oct. 31 by rhe Smithsonian. The Hirshhorn’s original architect, the late Gordon Bunshaft, was a partner at SOM when he designed the museum.

A museum spokesperson said it was too early to estimate the project cost or when the work might br bid. As part of the Smithsonian, it will follow federal bidding protocol. 

“Ensuring that the building is better able to accommodate the museum’s ambitious programs, while serving a larger and more diverse audience, is of critical importance,” SOM partner Chris Cooper and Selldorf principal Annabell Selldorf said in a joint statement. “We need to be able to do so while making the building more sustainable.”

The project comes as the Hirshhorn has seen its annual attendance increase 40% over the past five years, museum director Melissa Chiu said in a statement. The project will also expand exhibition space and address aging infrastructure such as fine art storage, vertical transportation and stormwater management. 

The Hirshhorn's largest-ever revitalization now is underway. The work began with building facade repair and roof replacement. That work is expected to complete by the end of the year. The second phase, with work on the sculpture garden led by Hiroshi Sugimoto, is expected to begin in spring 2023. 


New Museum Sites

The Smithsonian’s Board of Regents also is narrowing its search for sites to build the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum. 

The board identified two “optimal sites” in Washington. The first is across the Mall from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on Jefferson Drive S.W. The second is between Raoul Wallenberg Place S.W., Maine Avenue S.W. and Independence Avenue S.W.

Both parcels are undeveloped and controlled by the U.S. National Park Service.

Congress authorized creation of the two new museums in December 2020, for which the Smithsonian must designate sites by the end of 2022.