Newseum by Polshek
The second layer is the Great Hall of News, which is drenched with light from the front windows and skylights. It hosts the screen, hanging news helicopter, entrances to stores, and crisscrossing stairs leading to galleries, repeating the movement first seen from the exterior.
At the west end of the second layer is the Journalists Memorial, an arch of glass panels listing the names of killed journalists. Shortly before the museum opened, the remains of four journalists who had been killed in a helicopter crash in Laos during the Vietnam War were interred in the floor of the memorial.
This feature is not macabre, but sacred and touching — as when George Stephanopoulos, who often broadcasts his Sunday ABC news show from a Newseum studio, ends his show in the Journalists Memorial, reciting the names of members of the military killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The third layer of the interior, farthest from Pennsylvania Avenue and natural lighting, has interactive displays, and studios where younger visitors can be filmed as TV news anchors.
But the most striking feature of this layer is the Great Books gallery, with its display of books dating to the earliest days of printing. Beside each dimly lit open book, there is a touch screen that enables the viewer to scroll through each page of the book. Appelbaum is the rare museum exhibit designer who so effectively uses technology to advance learning.
Although Peter Prichard, president of the Newseum, says that LEED-certified design was not pursued for reasons of cost, he adds that a number of environmentally sensitive steps were taken. For example, solar shading screens reduce cooling load, natural lighting is used extensively, recycled tires were used for rubber floors, and ipe wood flooring was sourced from sustainable-yield forests. The museum also uses a LEED-accredited janitorial service.
Building a Street
Many other prominent architects, such as I.M. Pei, James Ingo Freed, Michael Graves, SOM, and Arthur Erickson, have designed buildings along this section of Pennsylvania Ave. Some of the architects verged on ignoring the street, or turned their buildings' nearly blank sides toward it. The few architects who addressed the Avenue created mostly unconvincing facades.
Polshek has designed a building here that not only reinforces the ceremonial, monumental sense of the Avenue and its classical buildings, but has made it more vibrant, vital, and architectonic.
William Lebovich is an architectural historian and architectural photographer who documents buildings throughout the United States. His photographs are in the Library of Congress, Brooklyn Museum, and other repositories.
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