U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Breaks Ground on Collections and Conservation Center

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s new David and Fela Shapell Family Collections and Conservation Center has broken ground at an undisclosed location. The 100,000-square-foot building is designed by SmithGroup.

The new Shapell Center will provide the archival-quality environments and robust systems necessary to support the ongoing preservation of artifacts documenting the Holocaust; ensuring that the evidence of the genocide will not be lost to future generations. With planned expansion space, the Shapell Center will provide a distinctive, secure and flexible home for the growing collection.

“This is the twenty-fifth collections care project we’ve designed for important U.S. institutions,” said Chris Wood, SmithGroup Cultural Studio Leader at the firm’s Washington, DC office. “It is a great example of how archives and collections care facilities can be high-performing and architecturally engaging through integrated design.”

The new facility is designed to carefully balance the diverse program of collections and non-collections functions. The building is organized rationally in two halves: a “clean” side accommodates collections-related activities with appropriate environmental controls and includes a reading room; artifact storage; discrete conservations labs for the treatment objects, textiles, paper and photographs; and a collections processing suite with a photo studio for digitizing the collection. A “dirty” side provides standard conditioning for non-collections storage; isolated wood, metal and paint shops for exhibit design and production; and staff office space with views to nature.

For SmithGroup Project Designer Wade Fuh, the Shapell Center has been an exciting challenge in design. “It has been humbling to work on a project so important to human history and culture. I think the building reflects that seriousness, but also really projects a graceful dignity befitting of such an institution,” Fuh said.

Construction of the Shapell Center is expected to be completed in early 2017.

SmithGroup’s design services include architecture, MEP engineering, lighting design, landscape architecture and interior design, and leading the broader design team which includes Weidlinger Associates, Inc., The Sextant Group, Inc. and Rummel Klepper & Kahl. DPR Construction is serving as the construction manager.

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