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Build a New Air & Space

Concrete Details: Why Air and Space Should Build Anew

Officials want a staggering $1 billion to resuscitate D.C.’s busiest museum.

Washington City Paper, July 29, 2016

Not to mince words, but the National Air and Space Museum is falling apart. The thin panels of Tennessee marble—actually, a kind of limestone—that clad the exterior are cracking and bowing away from its frame. The windows don’t block enough radiation from the sun. The heating and ventilation system has exceeded its intended lifespan. In addition to performing CPR on the building’s main components, the Smithsonian wants to make other upgrades, such as renovating exhibition galleries and redoing the large terraces around the museum.

To do it, Smithsonian Secretary David J. Skorton asked Congress last month for funding, a request that came as no surprise. The Smithsonian had announced a year before plans to overhaul D.C.’s most-visited museum, at a cost of $365 million. By March, that figure had risen to $581 million. But now it’s floating another price tag: $1 billion.

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Photograph by Darrow Montgomery