Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has completed its 1st cultural developing in the US: the International Spy Museum in America’s capital, which attributes an angled black volume, splayed red columns and a zig-zagged glass wall.

The International Spy Museum is positioned in Washington DC’s L’Enfant Plaza – a massive historic plaza in the city’s southwest quarter that is encircled by older industrial buildings.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners designed the dynamic developing to draw people’s interest to the web site and to be visible from the National Mall – a extended, grassy region house to the city’s iconic monuments like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

Measuring 140,000 square feet (13,006 square metres), it comprises an angular black box encased in bold red columns that rise 70 feet (21 metres).  The structure leans out towards the top rated resembling an upside-down trapezoid.

International Spy Museum by Rogers Stirk Harbour Partners

“It is clear that we are playing a game of contrast,” senior design and style companion Ivan Harbour told Dezeen. “We definitely wanted it to attain out to the street, to definitely develop this signal.”

“It had to lean out,” Harbour added. “If we had held it back to that line [of the original property], it would have been really hard to develop a visual influence.”

International Spy Museum by Rogers Stirk Harbour Partners

The angled black facade is disguised on the western edge of the museum by the folded glass volumes that types a walkway inside. Behind the tessellating glass facade, the stair hangs from sloped red columns that type a crucial function of the developing. A green structure operating the stair remains also visible from the outdoors.

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The upside-down trapezoid is also elevated above the ground on top rated of a further double-height glass volume committed for the lobby and retail spaces.

International Spy Museum by Rogers Stirk Harbour Partners

Inside the spy museum is 35,000 square feet (three,251 square metres) of exhibition space across a variety of levels, positioned inside the dark angular volume. Visitors are guided to the top rated of the developing, and then function their way down via the galleries.

Places consist of a particular exhibitions floor, a theatre, a permanent exhibition and a future Operation Spy space.

International Spy Museum by Rogers Stirk Harbour Partners

“Our clientele, and the founder of the museum, wanted us to think about how we could somehow reflect the acts of espionage in the developing,” Harbour mentioned. “We took some of the statements created by the founder – that spying is a human activity and a single of human being’s oldest activities.”

A final volume rests on top rated of the museum: a two-storey rectangular box with floor-to-ceiling windows with a massive, rooftop terrace. From right here are views of the Washington Monument and the Capitol, the National Cathedral and the Basilica, and the District Wharf and National Harbour.

International Spy Museum by Rogers Stirk Harbour Partners

“[The museum’s founder] is interested in the notion that a lot of spying takes place in plain sight, so it really is stuff that goes on and you happen to be not conscious of it but it really is appropriate in front of your nose,” Harbour mentioned.

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“And also this notion, that once again to quote the spy museum, all is not what it 1st appears.”

International Spy Museum by Rogers Stirk Harbour Partners

In order to lessen the bulk and mass of the developing, the firms introduced angular glazing. The tall vertical glass panels are joined in a zig-zag manner to conceal substantially of the museum’s internal pathways, although also bringing light inside.

“The facets in the facade are utilised to catch the light, as you see the developing from the north from the National Mall,” Harbour mentioned.

Washington DC’s spy museum is comprehensive with a 150-seat theatre, classrooms, education spaces, offices and back-of-property locations.

International Spy Museum by Rogers Stirk Harbour Partners

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners designed the museum with developer by JBG Firms and neighborhood firm Hickok Cole Architects as executive architect, 1st revealing plans for the project in 2015.

The dynamic developing supplies a permanent house for the city’s museum, which was previously housed in a historic red-brick developing in downtown Washington DC, in the Pennsylvania Quarter neighbourhood.

International Spy Museum by Rogers Stirk Harbour Partners

It marks the 1st goal-created museum to be committed to espionage in the planet. A great deal, if not all of the other precedents for spy museums have a tendency to be match-outs of current buildings, such as David Adjaye’s Spyscape in New York City.

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This novelty supplied a jumping off point for Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners in terms of its design and style path. “Basically we are developing a useable developing, but I suppose when observed from the city, it appears slightly strange and not pretty what it seems to be,” Harbour mentioned.

International Spy Museum by Rogers Stirk Harbour Partners

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners is an international firm primarily based in London that was founded by Richard Rogers in 1977 as Richard Rogers Partnership. In 2007, the firm was renamed to credit to function of partners Graham Stirk and Ivan Harbour.

Related to the spy museum is Paris’ Pompidou Centre, which Rogers completed with Italian architect Renzo Piano in the 1970s. Each cultural institutions fuse industrial components, pops of red, and a function stairwell along a single of its facades.

International Spy Museum by Rogers Stirk Harbour Partners

Other notable projects by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners are London’s Neo Bankside housing improvement, a vibrant red cancer care centre, and the city’s Leadenhall Creating – also recognized as the Cheesegrater.

Photography is by Nic Lehoux.

Project credits

Client: The Malrite Organization, Milton Maltz
Developer: JGB Smith
Architect, lead designer: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Architect of record: Hickok Cole
Structural engineer of record: SK+A Engineers
MEP engineer of record: Vanderweil
Landscape consultant: Michael Vergason Landscape Architects
Specialist facade consultant: Eckersley O’Callaghan
Lighting consultant: Offered Light


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