Westlake Reed Leskosky: Smithsonian Institution Renwick Gallery

Westlake Reed Leskosky: Smithsonian Institution Renwick Gallery


Main attic mechanical room. Courtesy: Kevin ReevesEngineering firm: Westlake Reed Leskosky

2016 MEP Giants rank: 86

Project: Smithsonian Institution Renwick Gallery

Location: Washington, D.C.

Building type: Museum

Project type: Existing building retrofit

Engineering services: Automation, controls; electrical, power; HVAC, mechanical; lighting; energy, sustainability; plumbing, piping

Project timeline: March 2012 to November 2015

MEP/FP budget: $12 million

Grand stair. Courtesy: Kevin ReevesChallenges

The building was originally completed in the 1870s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the first purpose-built art museum in the U.S. and became a Smithsonian Museum in the early 1970s. The engineering approach required sensitivity to the historic nature of the building within very tight spatial constraints. Systems are required to maintain appropriate environmental control for a varied collection (ASHRAE Class A), coupled with high visitor traffic.


The team worked in a highly integrated manner to allow replacement systems to better use space within the existing structure without any modifications to the existing mass of the building. The team helped pioneer a new type of LED source to allow the gallery lighting power density to operate at approximately 1 W/sq ft while still providing sufficient beam control for highlighting objects from sources located relatively far away. The project has performed approximately 50% more efficiently, even with visitor attendance approximately four times higher than in 2012, prior to renovation.

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