Sustainable Stewardship

National Academy of Sciences

National Academy of Sciences

Washington, DC

Our award-winning renovation of this scientific organization’s historic headquarters seamlessly integrates conservation and preservation strategies with sustainable design. Our work renewed the building for the next generation while acknowledging that we are only the latest in the edifice’s long line of past and future stewards.

With an increased focus on large public meetings, the Academy needed to expand the building’s conference facilities. Rather than enlarging the building’s footprint, we filled in unused light courts to create new atria that serve as circulation and pre-function spaces for the primary meeting rooms. The transformed building is more engaging and accessible to visitors, in keeping with the Academy’s reorientation toward a more public-facing mission.

Sustainable Stewardship
The design of the restored and renewed National Academy of Sciences building has truly made it a home for science in America for generations to come.
A photo of a hallway with a group of people talking at a seating area.

Historic Preservation

We restored and improved the building’s envelope, worked with conservation professionals to preserve the ornately decorated interior spaces, and seamlessly wove building system upgrades into the historic fabric. DC’s Historic Preservation Officer called the renovation “an example for others to emulate.”

Rationalizing Circulation

The new atria greatly improve circulation between the building’s original and mid-century wings by providing direct routes between all major spaces. Where we couldn’t unify floor heights, we added sloped walkways and lifts to streamline the experience for people of all abilities.

A photo looing up at a skylight.

Sustainable Strategies

As a scientific organization, the Academy was committed to making the building more energy efficient and environmentally advanced. Our restoration introduced a range of high- and low-tech sustainable strategies, from skylight-mounted photovoltaic panels to simple shades that block direct sunlight.

A photo of the exterior of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC at night time.

A Century of Service

The core Neoclassical building, including the domed Great Hall and National Mall façade, was designed by Bertram Goodhue and dates to 1924. Three wings containing conference spaces and an auditorium were added by the modernist firm Harrison & Abramovitz in the 1960s and ‘70s.

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