February 2017

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Construction Watch Tours

On the National Building Museum's members-only "Construction Watch Tours," members get a behind-the-scenes look at area construction projects.
Photo by Museum staff.

The National Building Museum puts its mission to "explore the world we build for ourselves" into literal practice with its distinctive and popular Construction Watch Tours. A hallmark of the Museum's programming since its beginning, these tours provide Museum members an up-close understanding of the construction and design of many of Washington's fascinating building projects—from bridges and embassies to museums and condominiums.   

Usually offered twice a month, Construction Watch Tours normally last two hours. Each tour is limited to approximately 35 Museum members. Few institutions in the U.S. offer such a regular and varied array of construction tours. Often, the projects visited aren't available to the public even after they are completed. Because the tours are led by developers, architects, and contractors, they offer direct access to key figures who are shaping our built environment.

Construction Watch Tours highlight special construction methods and innovative technologies used in the building process. Participants touring the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland learned about that building's astonishing glass curtain wall. Some tours have focused on green building strategies, while others have examined preservation projects of historic buildings. Some tours take Museum members outside the Washington metropolitan region.  The Museum organized an all-day bus tour to James Madison's Montpelier, in Orange, Virginia, for a special, behind-the-scenes look at the complicated preservation efforts that were completed a few years ago.

Tours have included visits to the new embassies of Nigeria, Slovenia, Ethiopia, Switzerland, and Ivory Coast. Members have received special access to the National Museum of the American Indian and the U.S. Botanic Garden on the National Mall and to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. Other tours have focused on sustainable design projects, including the Greenpeace USA headquarters and the offices for Environmental Defense. The Museum also chartered a boat for a river tour of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which spans the Potomac River between Virginia and Maryland.

Construction Watch Tours are open only to Museum members. Tickets cost $35 each. Members of The Corinthians and The Builders receive advance registration, typically one week in advance of registration for general members. Want to join us on a Construction Watch Tour? Become a member or upgrade your membership today!