On Friday, Jan. 30, 2009, representatives from six architectural firms gathered in Washington, D.C., to receive their marching orders for the design of the Smithsonian Institution's planned National Museum of African American History and Culture. The new museum will be built on a 5-acre site between the Washington Monument and the National Museum of American History on the National Mall and is hoped to be the first LEED-certified building on the Mall.

From the 22 firms that originally responded to the Smithsonian's Request for Qualifications in 2008, the institution's evaluation panel chose a short list:

  • Devrouax + Purnell Architects/Planners, P.C. of Washington, D.C., and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects of New York City, a joint venture;

  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro of New York City, in association with KlingStubbins of Cambridge, Mass.;

  • Foster + Partners of London and URS Corp. of San Francisco, a joint venture;

  • Freelon Adjaye Bond—a collaboration of The Freelon Group of Durham, N.C., the New York City office of Adjaye Associates, and Davis Brody Bond—in association with the Washington, D.C., office of SmithGroup;

  • Moody Nolan of Columbus, Ohio, and Washington, D.C., in association with the Albuquerque, N.M., office of Antoine Predock Architect;

  • Moshe Safdie and Associates of Somerville, Mass., in association with Sulton Campbell Britt & Associates of Washington, D.C. All six firms are national and international award-winners and all have a minority principal. Three firms have won the American Institute of Architects' Gold Medal, two are led by Pritzker Prize laureates, and four firms are members of the National Organization of Minority Architects.

    Firm representatives received full details on the project and its programming needs at the Smithsonian on January 30, during an orientation session. Competing firms will now spend the next two months developing design concepts for the $500 million museum. Don Stastny, principal of StastnyBrun Architects in Portland, Ore., architectural adviser for the competition, will facilitate competition jury meetings and support the competition procedures. The jury members are:

  • Lonnie G. Bunch III, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture;

  • Robert Kogod, president of Charles E. Smith Management, Smithsonian Board of Regents member, and chair of the board's facilities committee;

  • Maurice Cox, director of design for the National Endowment for the Arts;

  • Robert Campbell, Boston Globe architecture critic;

  • Adèle Naudé Santos, FAIA, principal of Santos Prescott and Associates of San Francisco and dean of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Architecture;

  • James A. Johnson, vice chairman of Perseus LLC and museum council member;

  • Richard D. Parsons, museum council co-chair;

  • Franklin D. Raines, museum council member;

  • Linda Johnson Rice, CEO of Johnson Publishing Co. and museum council co-chair;

  • Mike Bellamy, P.E., director of the Smithsonian's Office of Engineering, Design, and Construction; and

  • Sheryl Kolasinski, AIA, director of the Smithsonian's Office of Planning and Project Management.