Arts and Industries Building
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The grand glass and brick building, nearly 130 years old, is located at the center of the National Mall. Designed as an exposition hall, it became the Smithsonian’s first museum after the Castle Building. It has undergone several renovations over the years and for a time served as the nation’s Air and Space Museum. The building is a National Historic Landmark and any occupant will be required to maintain both its facade and major elements of its interior. For safety reasons, the building was completely abandoned several years ago. The Smithsonian isn’t sure what it wants to do with the building, and in 2007 called on developers and others to come up with appropriate suggestions but then abandoned that effort in the spring of 2008.
Its location just a short distance from the Smithsonian Metro station is one of the best sites in Washington. However, the cost of renovating the building including adding sufficient underground space to accommodate the Museum’s program would make it the most expensive site. And the need to preserve major interior elements could make conversion of this building to meet the needs of a modern museum prohibitively expensive. But, because of its unmatched location and historic status, this site should be explored further by the Commission.