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Credit: Chi Lam

Rubell Museum DC

BBB transformed a historic Washington DC building with a rich social and architectural history into a museum with an unparalleled contemporary art collection.

The Rubell Museum is housed in a historic Georgian revival-style building that opened in 1906 as Francis L. Cardozo Elementary, a public school serving the Black community of Southwest DC. It was re-established in 1927 as Randall Junior High School, which remains one of the last surviving buildings associated with the pre-urban renewal history of Southwest DC. From 1982 until 2004, the building served a variety of uses, including as artist studios, a space for arts education programs, and as a housing shelter for men. BBB’s adaptive reuse of the building into a museum preserves this important landmark listed in the National Register of Historic Places and brings it back to life as a public resource. The school’s central building and east wing were preserved and repurposed for the presentation of more than 7,400 pieces of internationally renowned paintings, sculptures, photography, and installations from the Rubell Family’s exceptional contemporary art collection. The central building’s lower level displays local artists’ work and provides space for public art, while the east wing, previously the school auditorium, now boasts a gallery space for larger art pieces. The museum’s new glass pavilion entrance will feature a bookstore and terrace that will serve as a beacon for the community. BBB worked with the Rubells to develop a design that reveals the historic building’s existing features, such as the wood flooring, raw wood joist, and exposed brick walls while maximizing new finishes to create a complementary backdrop for the artwork.

The museum is adjacent to Gallery 64, a modern, 12-story residential building that is a contemporary counterpart to the historic structure.

 

Client

Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group/ TSRW

Location

Washington, DC

Size

50,000 SF

Completed

2022

People

FAIA
Partner, Director of the DC Office
AIA, LEED AP
Principal
AIA
Senior Associate, Architect
AIA, LEED AP
Senior Associate, Architect
AIA
Associate, Architect