The Smithsonian Institution Building is the administrative building and information center for the Smithsonian Institution. It is located near the National Mall in Washington D.C. it is just behind the Sackler Gallery and National Museum of African Art. It is also nicknamed the Smithsonian Castle because for its distinct faux Norman style.
Smithsonian Institution Building History
The Smithsonian Castle was the very first Smithsonian building constructed. In 1846, the building committee conducted a design competition nationwide. The design submitted by architect James Renwich Jr. was chosen with a unanimous vote from the committee. He was assisted by Robert Mills, who designed the building’s interior spaces. Renwick’s original cardboard model for the building has survived all these years. It is on display at the Smithsonian Castle.
Construction of the Castle started sometime in 1847. The East Wing was first completed in 1849, followed by the West Wing later on the same year. The building was completed in 1855. Over the years, it underwent several renovations due to damage caused by a fire in 1865. Other floors were subsequently added sometime in the mid-1890’s.
Smithsonian Institution Building Profile
The Smithsonian Castle is one of the more interesting landmarks that you can find at the National Mall. The building is designed in the Gothic Revival style with Romanesque motifs. The facade of the building is made out of red sandstone, in contrast to the marble, granite and yellow sandstone used by other major buildings in Washington D.C.
The Castle is designed with a central section and two wings. Four towers are built on the far corner of each wing. There are also five other decorative towers built to give the building that classic castle look. The central section of the building houses the Great Hall, which is the museum space. It also acts as the main entrance to the building.