Exterior of A&I Building After Opening, by Unknown (Thomas W. Smillie?), c. 1883, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, The exterior to the north side of the newly completed United States National Museum Building, now the Arts and Industries Building (A&I) designed by architects Cluss and Schulze. Ground breaking ceremony was held on April 17, 1879. Second Secretary of the Smithsonian Spencer F. Baird assembled a distinguished Building Committee that included General Meigs and General William Tecumseh Sherman. Baird and his building committee worried over every detail of construction. The building was completed by 1881, on schedule and within budget. Per square foot, it was the cheapest permanent government building ever built. It had 80,000 square feet of exhibit space. Note grillwork of the original gates of the north entrance..