Located across the street from the new Washington, D.C. Convention Center, the historic 60,000 sq. ft. (5,574 sq m) Carnegie Library building will be transformed into the City Museum, the only museum dedicated to telling the story of the District of Columbia. The Clark Construction Group Inc. is serving as general contractor on the $11.5-million restoration project led by the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
“Plans for a museum that is by, for, and about the people of Washington, D.C., have been in the works for years. Now, more than ever, we discover how important it is for us to celebrate who and what we are,” said Barbara Franco, president and CEO of the Historical Society.
Before opening to the public in spring 2003, the landmark will undergo a complete renovation. With its Beaux Arts design, the Carnegie Library building is a three-floor symmetrical structure with three mezzanine levels offering 14,000 sq. ft. (1,300 sq m) of exhibit space. The public spaces are on the three main levels with mezzanines used for administrative offices and library and collections storage. The K Street entrance of the building will be re-opened, allowing visitors to enter from both the north and south sides.
The City Museum has adopted the 21st century model of a decentralized museum. In addition to the traditional role of preserving collections and offering exhibits and educational programs, the museum will link visitors to neighborhoods and regional sites called gateways. Visitors can experience a network of historic sites in off-the-Mall communities such as Chinatown, Adams Morgan, Shaw and Anacostia. The facility encourages visitors to see the city itself as a museum.
The museum’s design team includes the architectural firms Devrouax & Purnell of Washington, D.C., and RKK&G Museum and Cultural Facilities Consultants, of New York. GSM Design, of Montreal, is designing the exhibits and Lee & Liu Associates, of Washington, D.C., is serving as the landscape architect.
The Carnegie Library building holds a special place for Washingtonians. It is one of the few public spaces in the District of Columbia that was never racially segregated. In 1999, Mayor Anthony Williams presented the Historical Society with a 99-year lease for the Carnegie Library at the rate of one dollar per year.
The Clark Construction Group Inc. is headquartered in Bethesda, MD.