International Spy Museum

Washington, D.C.
International Spy Museum and JBG Smith
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Hickok Cole Architects
Additional collaborations with Hickok Cole Architects:
140,000 Square Feet
Year Completed: 
LEED Certified
The International Spy Museum’s structure draws inspiration from the techniques of espionage and ‘hides in plain sight’.

The eight-story museum features three floors of exhibit space, an interactive theater, a gift shop, and educational, office, and event spaces. To construct the 140,000-square-foot steel structure, Clark’s team retrofitted L’Enfant Plaza –an existing, active parking garage and retail center located in one of the busiest public transportation thoroughfares in the nation’s capital.

The museum’s sweeping exhibition space is contained in a dramatic, pleated ‘black box’ with opaque diagonal walls, articulated by bright red fins. The ‘black box’ of angled metal panels comes together to form a triangular profile, enclosing the museum’s exhibit floors. These custom louvered panels are perforated to allow for light to pass through, enabling the building to “glow.” Dark space created by the black box is an homage to the museums’ contents and the history of surveillance and covert operations.

The museum’s façade is comprised of a glass veil system that encloses an atrium, ground floor lobby, and circulation space. The custom veil system is a three-story, folded-plate-steel-glass 238,339 pound structure that is suspended from the west façade of the museum. The veils’ panels are “stitched” together with bolts and silicone, eliminating the need for vertical framing.  Behind this veil, the prominent façade of the box angles out over the street and public space to one side, breaking the building line to create a disruptive landmark at the crest of 10th Street, visible from the National Mall.

Above the lobby, and the three floors of exhibition and theatre space contained within the box, are two floors of set-back event space, inconspicuous from street level, with a roof terrace giving views across Washington DC’s cityscape and waterfront. Elevators located at the back on the building, allow visitors to exit the Museum box into the atrium above street level, contributing to the façade.

2019 ENR MidAtlantic Best Project, Cultural/Worship
2019 AGC - Build America Award, New Construction
2020 NCSEA Outstanding Project Award, New Buildings $80M to $200M