The Smithsonian Institution’s William H. Gross Stamp Gallery at the National Postal Museum is set in Washington, D.C.’s historic Postal Square building on Capitol Hill.

The exhibition space chronicles the first 100 years of U.S. postage stamp history and accommodates the largest philatelic gallery in the world. Carefully balancing modern museum requirements with the preservation of the structure’s historic character, the design involved the renovation and restoration of 14,000 square feet on the lower level of the circa-1914 building. The interior fit-out included new gallery entryways that are carefully integrated into the historic lobby, public and traveling exhibit display areas, a mezzanine that serves as a learning loft, and the historic postmaster suite.


  • Renovation and interior fit-out within a circa-1914 building
  • Designed to LEED® Gold standards
  • Largest philatelic gallery in the world
  • Integration of new building systems within historic fabric


  • AIA | DC Award of Excellence in Historic Resources
  • AIA Northern Virginia Award of Excellence in Historic Architecture
  • State Historic Preservation Officer’s Award, DC Office of Planning and DC Preservation League
  • AIA Potomac Valley Honor Award
  • Virginia Society AIA Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation
  • Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Star Award, Lighting Systems
  • NAIOP MD/DC Best Interiors Award of Excellence
  • Associated General Contractors of Washington, D.C. Best Interior Project Award
  • Engineering News-Record Mid-Atlantic Award of Merit

A New Presence

The design created a vibrant street-level presence for the museum. A Wall of Stamps was created with the addition of new internal windows that enhance daylight and climate control while creating a dynamic impact along the busy street, with colorful, back-lit images on display. The restoration of the ornate, lavishly appointed postmaster’s suite included new building systems and display areas. The project included new audiovisual, security, power, and fire protection systems designed to provide maximum flexibility for exhibit areas.

The National Postal Museum, a surprise gem.

Seth Kugal, The New York Times