Queue the Quadrangle - South Mall Transformation

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Model of the Quadrangle Viewed from the Southwest, c. 1979, Accession 09-161, Smithsonian Institution Archives, neg. no. SIA2011-1345.

Model of Quadrangle, by Dane A. Penland, Information File, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Model of Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of Art, by Dane A. Penland, Information File, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Model of Quadrangle, by Dane A. Penland, Information File, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Interior cutaway of Quadrangle complex, c. 1979, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

"New museum complex opens Sept. 28" - Quadrangle Special Supplement, The Torch, September 1987, no. 87-9, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

"The way it was . . . a brief history of the Castle's South Yard" - Quadrangle Special Supplement, The Torch, September 1987, no. 87-9, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

"Architect's elegant solutions" - Quadrangle Special Supplement, The Torch, September 1987, no. 87-9, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

"Innovative construction marks project" - Quadrangle Special Supplement, The Torch, September 1987, no. 87-9, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

"Gate welcomes visitors" - Quadrangle Special Supplement, The Torch, September 1987, no. 87-9, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Quadrangle excavation, 1983, by Jeffrey Ploskonka, Smithsonian Institution Archives, neg. no. 83-15374-1.

Aerial View of Quadrangle, 1983, by Jeff Tinsley, Accession 11-009, Smithsonian Institution Archives, neg. no. 2002-724.

Last week the Smithsonian announced a new plan for the South Mall side of the National Mall, which includes the Smithsonian Castle, the Arthur M. Sacker Gallery, the National Museum of African Art, the S. Dillon Ripley International Center, the Enid A. Haupt Garden, the Arts & Industries Building, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Historically the area has played host to a variety of functions and buildings, specifically the South Yard, located behind the Smithsonian Castle, lies in between the Arts and Industries Building and the Freer Gallery of Art and has been the location for a variety of things over the years. In the late 19th century, one could find several small buildings for the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Taxidermy Studio, National Zoological Park, and Aerodrome Studio. After World War I, a Quonset hut housed the National Air Museum (today, the National Air and Space Museum), next to the Radiation Biology Laboratory (today, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center) greenhouses. In 1976, the South Yard was converted to a Victorian Garden to welcome visitors. In the 1980s, the area was excavated to create the Quadrangle Complex, with underground buildings for the National Museum of African Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and the S. Dillon Ripley International Center. Pavilion entrances to these buildings are nestled within the Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Adapted from The South Yard online exhibition, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Designed by architect, Junzo Yoshimura, and completed by the firm, Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, the Quadrangle complex by the numbers:

  • Cost - $73.2 million (including $36.6 million in federal appropriations)
  • From Start to Opening - From formal groundbreaking on June 21, 1983 to formal opening, September 28, 1987: 1560 days
  • Dimensions - Garden: 4.2 acres; Total complex: 360,000 square feet, including the above-ground pavillions; 96% of the complex is below ground.

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