The nearly four-year restoration of the David H. Koch Hall of Fossils and installation of the new Deep Time exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History—from building design and construction, to specimen conservation and installation, to exhibit design and fabrication, and finally to commissioning—took place even as the 1910 Beaux Arts gallery remained open to eight million annual visitors.
The project team, led by design firm EwingCole, uncovered and restored the magnificent skylight above the hall. The designers used a glazing system based on aerogel nanotechnology to act as insulator and filter against UV light and heat, bringing daylight into the gallery for the first time in two decades and protecting the 65-million-year-old specimens below.
The hall’s ornate plasterwork, which had been lost for generations, was recreated by skilled craft workers using ancient methods. Templates for the new moldings were cast from original building fabric in a sibling gallery, Sant Ocean Hall.
The new enclosed FossiLab gives visitors a glimpse into the exacting work of Smithsonian scientists and preservationists, while mitigating high levels of noise and dust pollution from adjacent galleries.
BUILDING TEAM EwingCole (submitting firm, architect, SE, MEP) Smithsonian Institution—Smithsonian Facilities/Office of Planning, Design and Construction (owner) Reich + Petch (exhibit designer) Grunley Construction (GC) DETAILS 32,000 sf Total cost $125 million Construction time August 2015 to June 2019 Delivery method Design-bid-build