[a precedent study]
this past weekend i traveled to Washington, DC, to explore the many galleries of the Smithsonian with the 2nd year studio, in which i'm a teaching assistant.
i thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to utilize my investigations there and relate them as a precedent study my 4th year studio design project --- to REdesign the Chatham County Courthouse into the Pittsboro City Hall.
the Smithsonian Castle (above) was a great example of a historically preserved building. although it was undergoing some reconstruction, i was able to wander about the main lobby area which was a sneak peak to all the other museums on the Lawn. the Castle also showed some of the history of the Smithsonian and DC. it was a gorgeous building and stayed true to the historically classic style of old DC.
first i explored the Sackler Museum. when walking into the space i was greeted by a security guard who checked my small and adorable satchel (every museum did), as i walked further in i was taken aback by the open and spacious reception area (above). there was seating all around me and small podiums with informational pamphlets. the ceiling detail (below) was extraordinary with one pendant light that gave the space a warm and inviting feeling.
the Sackler Museum was mainly displaying asian and american art work at the time. there were two "Guardian Statues" placed on either side a hallway that ran the length of the museum. the guardian (above) was said to have protected the Buddha during his travels.
the staircases in the Freer and African Art Museums were rather odd, but the Freer Museum (above) utilized the open area and hung a piece of art work from the sky light to the lowest floor. the African Art Museum's staircase (below) didn't take advantage of the open area and as a result is less appealing.
an open courtyard with a garden and fountain (above) was located in the middle of the Sackler Museum. some gallery spaces had windows and doors that allowed you to peer out into the space.
the American Indian Museum (above) had a very open and spacious lobby area. however, when you walked into the space you felt somewhat disconnected from the content it held. the space didn't allow for interaction of any kind and left you wondering what the museum was about. there was no preview or sneak peak to what was really inside.
the American Indian Museum has an amazing ceiling detail. when you look up you see a massive "stacked" dome with an oculus that allows for plenty of natural lighting to enter the lobby.
WOW! the Air and Space Museum was FANTASTICAL! you walked into the building and immediately experience a dramatic sense of scale and proportion. all around you are life size planes, missiles, satellites, and everything else that lives in the sky. it was open and inviting and all you wanted to do was run around and play with everything. it was gorgeous.
again, security was at the entrance of every museum (above). however, some were a little more severe than others.
it was amazing to walk into this space and be completely surrounded by these artifacts. you can't stop looking up and down and to the right and left. i was mesmerized by everything around me. the use of space and proportion in this museum entrapped me and engaged all my senses, make me want more and more!
later in the day our class met at the Library of Congress and got a tour of the main building from an Iarc alumni, Jessica Krasuski, who now works as an Interior Designer for the libraries. the fountain (above) outside the library was a dramatic sneak peak to the attention to detail found inside the library.
this space engages you because you can't stop looking at everything around you. every time you turn your head you see something new and spectacular. it's hard to pay attention to whatever is being said around you because you become so captivated by this space.
the detail on the ceiling was breathtaking. stained glass windows atop the roof allowed just enough natural light in highlight the glorious detail surrounding me.
no surface on this building was left unconsidered. every little part and detail of this space merged together to not only create a unified whole, but it created a historic piece of art that you are able to walk through, experience, and fully enjoy!
doesn't that ceiling just make you want to cry?!
when you walk into the Natural History Museum, you immediately notice the life-size elephant in the lobby area. it draws you into the space, you walk around it to observe every detail and learn more about this magnificent creature.
one of the last things i saw while touring the museums of the Smithsonian was this gorgeous fountain in the center of the West Gallery. it was made of a dark marble matching the columns that encircled it. the walls in this space were white to contrast the marble for a more dramatic feel. above was a dome with an oculus shinning natural light down into the space.
the whole day was an absolutely beautiful experience !!