The Life of a Mansion: The Story of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

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Architectural historian Heather Ewing traces the history of the building that houses the Smithsonian Design Museum, which began its life as the home to Andrew Carnegie and family. The impressive and functional mansion along Fifth Avenue was a marvel of invention and design, with modern steel-frame construction and an electric elevator. Ewing provides a tour of the rooms where Carnegie conducted business and philanthropic endeavors, and where his family and staff lived and entertained throughout the mid-twentieth century. Ewing also discusses the 1976 renovation by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer for conversion of the home into a museum and the mansion's latest renovation by the architectural team of Gluckman Mayner Architects, Beyer Blinder Belle and Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, which has positioned Cooper Hewitt as a truly twenty-first-century design museum. Upon completion of three years of intensive renovation, the mansion turned museum has been LEED certified and gained an additional 6,000 square feet of gallery space.


  • Carnegie, Andrew 1835-1919
  • Carnegie Mansion (New York, N.Y.)
  • Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro
  • Beyer Blinder Belle, Architects & Planners
  • Gluckman Mayner Architects
  • Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates


Smithsonian History Bibliography

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Architecture
  • Repair and reconstruction
  • Museums
  • Museum architecture
  • Renovations
  • Dwellings
  • Buildings--Repair and reconstruction
  • Museums--New York City


  • New York City
  • New York (State)



Physical description

Number of pages: 160 Page numbers: 1-160

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