Since 2002, the International Spy Museum has called Washington D.C.’s Penn Quarter home. On May 12, the museum will officially open its new location to the public. Located near L’Enfant Plaza in the Southwest quadrant of D.C., the $162 million building will double the size of the existing downtown museum to 140,000 square feet.
After the organization grew tremendously over the last two decades, the International Spy Museum, teamed up with Developers JBG, Design Architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) and Architects Hickok Cole to make the new vision a reality. The concept for the design is a play on the business of espionage, “hidden in plain sight”. The mystery and intrigue of the exhibits are obscured behind a dark metal “black box” which sits above a transparent base. With its evocative form, powerful slopped columns, folded metal panel skin, and pleated glass veil the museum makes vibrant architectural and urban statement in the existing concrete canyon of 10th Street.
With interactive exhibitions and installations, the foremost collection of spy artifacts in the world, and first-person accounts from top intelligence officers and experts, the new museum places visitors in the shoes of the spies. Three floors of museum exhibits rest on a base of retail, education and lobby spaces. The facility is topped with administrative offices and a dramatic special events facility with sweeping views of the city and positions the museum as a catalyst to reinvigorate 10th Street SW and to connect the National Mall to the future developments south of the site.