National Museum of Health and Medicine

Explorations Institutions

NMHM plan
06 aerial final

LAB and KlingStubbins formed the winning team for a competition to design the new National Museum of Health and Medicine. The site constraints were daunting: the building itself had to be wedged between a highly secured access road and a deep swale, access to the Museum was from a single point, security requirements needed to be accommodated, there were almost ten feet of grade change between the entry point to the site and the front door of the Museum that had to serve both able-bodied and handicapped visitors, and a grove of existing, mature oak trees needed to be incorporated without adversely affecting their health. LAB’s solution came from a recognition that a primary building material, weathering steel, would be a visible component of the building. This suggested a series of very thin retaining walls made of steel plate that allowed the site to be carved rather than graded. This approach yielded an angular landscape of “trenches” with walls that echoed both the geometry and the materiality of the new Museum.

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