Problem-Solving Collaboration: National Museum of African American History and Culture

Learn from design team leaders from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.


Design team leaders from the National Museum of African American History and Culture will apply project takeaways applicable to the specific interests and needs of the AIA audience. These applicable lessons include:

  • Achieving the client’s vision of creating column-free space with no structural steel above grade by developing solutions including use of structural cores, cantilevered girders, and hung vertical trusses
  • Providing architectural, civil, structural, and environmental solutions for responsible management of the water table and the multiple methods explored to integrate the water table into a design where 60% of the structure - 5 levels - is built below ground within the DC tidal basin.
  • Managing multi-stakeholder input from the Smithsonian, federal and DC agencies, design review stakeholders, and public boards and citizen stakeholders in the District
  • Designing the most sustainable national museum ever built

Learning objectives

  • Be prepared to move beyond prescriptive approaches to apply creative structural solutions.
  • Discover how to manage site and grade issues to satisfy multiple stakeholder and community needs.
  • Describe the value of successfully locating mechanical systems to meet strict design criteria.
  • Determine 0how and when to use full-scale mockups to test unique building elements.
User rating:
Average: 4.7 (136 votes)
 $50  non-member
 $35  member
1.50 LUs
  • HSW
  • GBCI
  • RIBA


  • Paul Corrado


    Senior Vice President | WSP

    Paul Corrado is a Senior Vice President and Senior Electrical Engineer at WSP | Parsons...
  • Zena Howard


    Principal, Practice Leader | Perkins + Will

    Zena has over 25 years of experience as an architect and project leader with a career focused on...
  • Benjamin Rosenberg

    Associate | Silman

    Ben Rosenberg has been a structural engineer at Silman since 2006 and was named an Associate in...