National Museum of the American Indian
Situated between the National Air & Space Museum and the U.S. Capitol on the National Mall, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian stands as a tribute to Native American history and culture. The winner of numerous industry awards, the museum's dynamic structure reflects the Native American community's values and houses exhibition space and a centerpiece venue for ceremonies and presentations.
The 260,000-square-foot, five-story structure reflects the relationship between humankind and the rest of nature, with references to the four cardinal directions and the four elements of the world (earth, air, water, and fire). The curvilinear building is clad in Kasota limestone that evokes natural rock formations of the southwest. The building’s special features — an entrance facing east toward the rising sun, a prism window, and a 120-foot-high entrance called the Potomac — were carefully designed in close consultation with the Native American community to reflect their culture.
Covering four acres, the grounds surrounding the National Museum of the American Indian are considered an extension of the building and are a vital part of the museum as a whole. They capture natural landscapes indigenous to the region, including wetlands, meadowlands, and a hardwood forest. The grounds also attempt to recapture the National Mall's original state. Clark planted 30,000 trees, shrubs and other plants, belonging to 150 species, to make this surrounding habitat an attraction in itself and part of a the visitor experience.
One of the most complicated aspects of the museum was its concrete structure. The museum required six footprints, undulating perimeter walls with real boulders and constructed water features. Moreover, it is designed to resist seismic and wind loads, primarily by transferring loads to the shear walls of the stair and elevator cores placed throughout the building. Clark Concrete self-performed all of the concrete work within the 27-month schedule.
No two museum floors utilize the same geometric layout. There are more than 500 work points, each of which represent the center of a circle and can generate multiple radii. Within the building, there are over 1,000 curves and little repetition, which meant that Clark Concrete did not perform the same activities two days in a row.