National Children

National Children's Museum unveils building design

National Children's Museum unveils building design

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 22, 2009) – The National Children’s Museum (NCM) today unveiled plans for its new Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed building, slated to open in 2013 at National Harbor, as a physical demonstration of the Museum’s mission to inspire children to care about and improve the world. NCM’s new 150,000 square-foot, LEED-certified building will serve as an active teaching tool, highlighting the accomplishments of children; using recycled and sustainable materials; and celebrating the natural environment. The space boasts an outdoor courtyard, wind turbine, green wall façade, and glass arrival area.

“The building’s overall design reflects the mission of the National Children’s Museum through a series of dynamic architectural forms surrounding a large exterior courtyard,” said Cesar Pelli, Senior Principal of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. “Areas of the structure vary in shape and size to create a ‘village of forms’ that provides great architectural scale and experiential variety to the visitor, along with intuitive wayfinding and seamless interaction between exhibits, programs, and activities. In all aspects, the design seeks to encourage and inspire children to think about their role in the community and the world.”

NCM strives to teach children how to become informed, active citizens. NCM’s eco-friendly building provides another means to demonstrate the Museum’s commitment to children and the planet. Through its new space, NCM will encourage and foster an understanding and love of nature; champion outdoor play (in the Museum courtyard and beyond); and encourage the use of natural materials to foster connections to the environment, helping kids become better stewards of the earth.

The Museum plans to incorporate a number of green features in the new building, including:

  • A Wind Turbine: The building’s wind turbine, a symbol of NCM’s commitment to sustainable and renewable energy, will be a source of power.
  • A Sun Reflector: A series of reflective panels on the roof of the arrival space will reflect sunlight, minimize artificial lighting, and reduce energy loads during the day.
  • A Living Wall: The Museum’s south facing façade features a cable and tray system to support a framework for a living, green wall. The Living Wall will shade the building from the bright, hot southern sun, helping to cool the building and reduce energy demands.
  • A Green Roof: A green roof system will provide for sedums and small scale planting, absorb rainwater (reducing storm run off), improve thermal insulation, and reduce the “heat island” effect.
  • Recycled Materials: The new Museum will use recycled structural steel and some recycled brick from demolished buildings.

When completed, the new NCM will house exhibits, programs, and resources designed to spark the imagination and celebrate the power of children and their families. Interior exhibits will highlight six core content areas (the environment, health and well-being, play, civic engagement, the arts, and world cultures) and will be created by three prominent design firms: Amaze Design, Roto Studios, and Aldrich Pears. The Museum is projected to attract 600,000 visitors annually.

Scheduled to open in 2013, the National Children’s Museum (NCM) will be a world-class cultural and educational center dedicated to engaging children and empowering them to make a difference. The mission of NCM is to inspire children to care about and improve the world. Through its interactive exhibits, online community (, and unique national programs and partnerships, NCM is transforming the concept of a traditional museum by becoming a catalyst and forum for a national movement to inspire and empower kids to speak up, take action, and get engaged in their communities. Through 2013, NCM is operating as a Museum Without Walls, participating in a variety of community events and working with other arts and cultural organizations to develop creative partnerships that benefit kids and families. This spring NCM opens the Launch Zone, a 2,700 square-foot space at National Harbor where kids and families can prototype and test exhibit and program concepts. The National Children’s Museum is led by President and CEO, Kathy Dwyer Southern.

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