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Building Conservation Associates

Smithsonian Castle

Location: Washington, D.C.
Original Architect: Cluss and Schulze
Year Built: 1881

BCA’s materials conservations services at two Smithsonian Institution buildings, The Arts and Industries Building (AIB) and Smithsonian Institution Building (SIB), began in 2021 as part of the Institution’s major Revitalize Historic Core project. The Renaissance Revival style Arts and Industries Building, completed in 1881, was designed by Adolf Cluss and Paul Schulze. The Smithsonian Institution Building, also known as The Castle, is the home to Smithsonian’s administrative offices and information center. As the first Smithsonian building, it was completed in 1855. James Renwick, Jr.’s design includes aspects of Norman Revival, Romanesque, and Gothic styles. 

The ongoing Revitalize Historic Core project includes major architectural, structural, and mechanical systems improvements and renovations. BCA is charged with developing treatments for historic flooring and paint finishes within both buildings. BCA performed a finishes analyses to confirm and supplement previous paint studies. At AIB, BCA investigated previous exposure windows on the large stencils in the rotunda and halls as well as removal of numerous samples from the building to document the finishes during the significant periods. At SIB, BCA analyzed and documented paint finishes from major halls, which had numerous campaigns of faux stone finishes, as well as the finishes in various offices and corridors. In addition, BCA performed conditions survey and cleaning tests on historic flooring including stone, mosaic, terrazzo, and encaustic tiles at both buildings. BCA provided treatment recommendations for the flooring. In future phases, BCA is providing specifications and construction drawings for historic flooring and paint finish restoration.