With more than seven million annual visits, the National Air and Space Museum is one of the most popular museums in the world.

A phased renovation of this late Modernist structure, addressing the building’s failing exterior envelope and aging systems, will update the Smithsonian Institution’s iconic 687,000-square-foot building along the National Mall. The modernization will create an energy-efficient, high-performance environment in which to showcase the nation’s achievements in flight and space exploration.


  • Planned multi-year, multi-phase renovation
  • Replacement of stone panel façade and all building systems
  • Renovation of galleries and Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall
  • 687,000 sf renovation
  • Iconic museum on the National Mall

A World Leader in Aerospace Collections

The revitalization of the National Air & Space Museum - with 23 themed galleries and collections that include the 1903 Wright flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, and the Apollo 11 command module Columbia - will modernize one of the world’s most popular museums. The museum opened in 1976 to an anticipated attendance of 3 million a year; actual attendance has ranged between 7 and 9 million a year. Repairs to the exterior envelope; new HVAC, fire protection, and life systems; and updates to several galleries will protect collections and improve the visitor experience for decades. The museum will remain open throughout the renovation.

“This is an exceptionally exciting project for us…it will combine our skills in the renovation of large public facilities and our technical expertise in preserving buildings of the modern past to guide this project in support of the Smithsonian’s long-term stewardship of the museum.” – Larry Barr, AIA, Quinn Evans Architects

New assessment technologies

After nearly four decades of use, the National Air & Space Museum’s stone façade has begun to deteriorate past the point of repair. The 1 ¼-inch panels have warped and cracked, and are now too thin to withstand further weathering. In addition, the museum’s outdated mechanical system requires replacement. Using such advanced technologies as stone testing, water and air-leakage testing, hygro-thermal analysis (WUFI), computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and energy modeling, the multidiscipline team led by Quinn Evans Architects will generate high-performance envelope solutions. These simulation tools allow for a comprehensive analysis to predict energy, lighting, ventilation, thermal, and moisture performance in the modernized structure.