The NMAAHC brings together many disparate ideas: architecture and sculpture, destruction and creation, celebration and mourning. At its heart, Contemplative Court distills all these themes into a single moment – one that follows the ascent from three subterranean galleries that chronicle centuries of American slavery. To enter the court is to walk inside a sculpture; surrounded by luminous walls of caramel-coloured glass, a circular waterfall cascades from the lip of a massive glazed oculus open to the sky above. A ceiling of blackened aluminum sheeting provides a sombre counterpoint to the churning water, which is lit from below; monumental stone benches encourage visitors to reflect and recharge.
Project: Contemplative Court at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Location: Washington, D.C., USA Firm: Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroupJJR, USA Team: Pure + FreeForm