A monumental historic building set along the National Mall, the NAS headquarters has been rehabilitated and expanded to restore its historic grandeur and serve scholars and the public with state-of-the-art conference facilities.

The building offers art-filled galleries, a “Great Hall” with a 56-foot-high dome, and a 500-seat auditorium. The NAS headquarters required new building systems and engineering infrastructure, restoration and improvements to the historic building envelope, and upgrades to improve circulation and enhance functionality. The design seamlessly integrates the conservation and preservation of the historic fabric of the building while sensitively incorporating sustainable strategies and technologies.


  • Renovation of National Academy of Science's headquarters
  • Incorporation of contemporary systems and engineering infrastructure
  • Restoration of building's historic envelope
  • Neoclassical building originally designed in 1924
  • Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • LEED Gold Certification


  • 2013 State Historic Preservation Officer’s Award, DC Office of Planning and DC Preservation League
  • 2013 Honor Award, AIA Potomac Valley
  • 2013 Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation, Virginia Society AIA
  • 2014 Award of Excellence in Historic Resources, AIA|DC
  • 2013 Award of Excellence in Historic Architecture, AIA Northern Virginia
President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the building as “the Temple of Science in America,” saying, “It is not a place of mystery, but one to lead the public in thinking deeply and seeing how research can explain fundamental problems.”

A Temple of Science 
© Maxwell Mackenzie

© Maxwell Mackenzie

Sustainable Efficiency

As a scientific organization, the academy is committed to making the building more energy efficient and environmentally advanced. Innovative sustainable strategies and technologies were incorporated throughout the building, including two renewable energy sources: the skylight photovoltaic units and a rooftop solar water heating assembly. These and other measures that conserve natural resources, such as the use of light shelves in the courts, also serve as educational tools for visitors. Energy use in the building has been reduced by more than 25 percent, and building maintenance costs substantially lowered.

An Evolving History

The building consists of four distinct pieces reflecting different eras of construction. The original neoclassical building was designed by Bertram Goodhue in 1924 and is characterized by the integration of sculpture, mosaic tile, and color in its detailing.  
The mid-century Modern east, west and north wings were designed by Wallace Harrison of the Modernist firm Harrison & Abramovitz and added in 1962, 1965, and 1970 respectively. 
The clash of the discordant styles becomes even more fascinating when one considers that a young Harrison was employed by Goodhue as a draftsman for the original building.

“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. Quinn Evans Architects was especially sensitive to both the building’s history and its current use in the restoration of the 1924 historic core and the redesign and later additions.”

Kenneth R. Fulton, Executive Director, NAS.

© Max MacKenzie