The Museum looks forward to resuming in-person public programs when we are able to. Until then, we are producing smart, timely, and thought-provoking presentations and panel discussions that can be enjoyed online: first live, via webinar, and then after, as recorded videos. Select live programs will offer the opportunity to earn continuing education credits; at this time, recorded programs are not eligible for such credits. Use the tabs below to find out what we’re planning and what is available for viewing.
Presentations and panel discussions that arise from our exhibitions and other activities.
The Art of Timber Framing
August 17, 2021 / 1–2:30 pm
Learn about the history and art of traditional timber framing in America and France. Rick Brown, co-founder and board president of Handshouse Studio; Alicia Spence, project manager, Handshouse Studio Notre Dame de Paris Truss Project; and François Calame, ethnologist for France’s Ministry of Culture, and the founder of Charpentiers Sans Frontières, discuss the history of the craft and how it was used in the Notre Dame de Paris Truss Project. An effort led in the U.S. by HandsHouse Studio, the project reconstructed—using traditional French materials, tools, and techniques—a full-scale cathedral truss like those destroyed in the Notre Dame de Paris fire of 2019. The truss will be raised in the Museum’s Great Hall on August 6 and remain on view for about six weeks. The program is moderated by Marjorie Hunt, folklife curator at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.
$5 Museum Member | Free Student | $10 Non-member
TALK WITH THE ARTIST: LISA MARIE THALHAMMER AND EQUILATERAL NETWORK / July 28, 2021
Meet the artists, designers, and educators whose projects at the National Building Museum are helping us turn the annual Summer Block Party Inside Out. Hear from D.C. muralist Lisa Marie Thalhammer, who is known for her striking and powerful paintings, collages and public artworks that use portraiture, symbolism, color and shape to explore interconnectivity, raise consciousness and communicate uplifting messages. Her design, Equilateral Network, transforms the Museum’s West Lawn through a series of pink triangles and walking paths, comfortably spaced 6 feet apart, that take inspiration from Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s use of sacred geometry in his city plan for Washington, D.C. Thalhammer is joined by Galin Brooks, AICP, Director of Planning and Placemaking, DowntownDC Business Improvement District, to discuss this installation, her other work, and the important role of art in the public realm.
TALK WITH THE ARTIST: FOON SHAM AND THE MAZE OF KNOWLEDGE / July 14, 2021
Meet the artists, designers, and educators whose projects at the National Building Museum are helping us turn the annual Summer Block Party Inside Out. First up: Foon Sham, a D.C.-area sculptor. Foon works primarily with wood in creating large-scale structures, including the Maze of Knowledge, a 26-foot-square, site-specific labyrinth in the west court of our Great Hall. It features walls of varying height and horizontal broken brick-like contours built with wooden blocks commonly used as construction materials. Foon is joined by Angela Adams, director, Arlington Public Art, to discuss this installation, his other work, and the important role of art in the public realm.
The Landscapes of Frank Lloyd Wright / April 19, 2021
Discover how Frank Lloyd Wright, usually known solely as an architect, considered the landscape as an integral element in his work. Mark Bayer, Bayer Landscape Architects, PLLC; Stuart Graff, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation; Jennifer Gray, Frank Lloyd Wright Archives, Columbia University; Justin W. Gunther, Fallingwater; and moderator Stephen Morris, National Park Service, discuss how and why the work of Frank Lloyd Wright was sensitively integrated within their natural landscape settings and enhanced by their designed landscapes. This program is supported by the Darwina L. Neal Cultural Landscape Fund for adult programs focusing on cultural landscapes.
D.C.’s Midcentury Master: Chloethiel Woodard Smith and the Livable City / March 17, 2021
Learn about Chloethiel Woodard Smith, FAIA (1910–1992), an American modernist architect and urban planner whose career was centered in Washington, D.C. She was the sixth woman inaugurated into the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows, and at the peak of her practice led the country’s largest woman-owned architecture firm. Neil Flanagan, architectural designer and writer, Peter Sefton, independent architectural historian, and Catherine Zipf, architectural historian and author, discuss the career and legacy of Smith, whose work in the District includes Harbour Square, Capitol Park Apartments and Townhouses, and a study of new uses for the Pension Building, now the National Building Museum. The program is moderated by Susan Piedmont-Palladino, director, Washington Alexandria Architecture Center and consulting curator, National Building Museum.
NARRATING THE BORDER WALL / February 16, 2021
Learn about efforts to tell the story of the border wall and other U.S.-Mexico border infrastructure. Sarah Leavitt, Ph.D, curator at the Capital Jewish Museum, and Marla Miller, Ph.D, professor of history and director of the public history program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst track the ways in which museums and other public history platforms tell stories of the border using several examples, exploring border-related nominations to the National Register of Historic Places in El Paso, and a public art project documenting migrant deaths. The program will conclude with a preview of the Museum’s upcoming exhibition The Wall/El Muro: What Is a Border Wall?, curated by Leavitt.
memorializing the victims of gun violence / February 2, 2021
Learn about the design, purpose, and meaning of the Gun Violence Memorial Project, conceived by MASS Design Group and conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas in partnership with gun violence prevention organizations Purpose Over Pain and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund as a tribute to the thousands of lives taken by gun violence in America each year. The National Building Museum presents the exhibition, which will be freely available to all Museum visitors, as a complement to Justice is Beauty: The Work of MASS Design Group. Both will be on view when the Museum opens later this year. Panelists: Pam Bosley, Mother of Terrell Bosley, and Annette Nance-Holt, Mother of Blair Holt, Co-Founders of Purpose over Pain; Debbie Weir, Senior Managing Director for Organizing and Engagement, Everytown for Gun Safety; Jha D. Williams, senior associate, MASS Design Group (moderator).
MASS Design Group: Design & Craft in the Firm’s Work / DECEMBER 15, 2020
Learn more about the MASS Design Group exhibition Justice is Beauty.
MASS Design Group is a nonprofit architecture firm committed to the idea that architecture is never neutral—it either heals or hurts. Founded in 2008 by six students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the name of the firm is derived from the motto “A Model of Architecture Serving Society.” MASS Design Group’s body of work reflects the belief that design can, and should, improve people’s lives. Over the last decade, MASS Design Group’s projects—from schools and hospitals in Rwanda, to a cholera treatment center in Haiti, to a healthcare center for homeless people in Boston, to a “waiting village” for pregnant women in Malawi—reflect its mission to research, build, and advocate for architecture that promotes justice, healing, and human dignity. This program, developed by the Museum for the International Masonry Institute, centers on MASS Design’s practice of honoring craftworkers through design and being committed to developing the next generation of designers and builders.
DOCUMENTING CROSSROADS / DECEMBER 7, 2020
Learn how the Covid pandemic has affected poor and segregated communities in urban centers. Longtime National Building Museum collaborator Camilo José Vergara, renowned urban documentarian and recipient of the 2012 National Humanities Medal, and Elihu Rubin, associate professor of urbanism at the Yale School of Architecture, discuss the photos and essays that comprise the three-part online Museum exhibition Documenting Crossroads. The exhibition reveals the ongoing impact of the coronavirus on the ground; including ephemeral adaptations of urban space, grassroots efforts to feed the hungry, and the ways in which local street art and graffiti reflect a collective preoccupation with the virus.
MURALS THAT MATTER / SEPTEMBER 22, 2020
Learn more about this exhibition.
Learn how street art can transform public space, serve as form of protest and activism, and contribute to the civic discourse on important topics. John Chisolm, executive director, P.A.I.N.T.S. Institute; Gerren Price, director of public space operations, DowntownDC Business Improvement District; Levi Robinson, visual artist; and Tim Wright, founder of Attucks Adams, a D.C.-based history tour organization, discuss how public art contributes to the character of neighborhoods and was essential in supporting social justice protests in Washington, D.C., following the murder of George Floyd. The program is moderated by National Building Museum’s Caitlin Bristol, project manager for exhibitions.
An occasional series in which the Museum highlights recently published books whose subject matter touches on some aspect of the built environment.
BUILDINGS IN PRINT
August 23, 2021 / 6:30–8 pm
Learn how illustrated books about architecture have effectively played a role in advancing awareness of and appreciation for the profession. John Hill, author and founder of the blog A Daily Dose of Architecture Books, discusses his new book Buildings in Print: 100 Influential and Inspiring Illustrated Architecture Books, why he created it, and his process for selecting the titles. Buildings in Print spans nearly a century and various types of architecture books, providing the reader with insightful reasons for each book’s significance.to discuss this installation, his other work, and the important role of art in the public realm. This book is available for purchase at the Museum Shop website.
$5 Museum Member | Free Student | $10 Non-member
Château La Coste: Art and Architecture in Provence / April 7, 2021
Take a tour of Château La Coste, a unique property in Provence, France, that combines sculptural artworks by leading contemporary artists alongside pavilions and buildings by some of the world’s best-known architects, all within the grounds of a working vineyard. A privately owned winery, Château La Coste makes its grounds, artwork, and architecture available to the general public for a small fee (and, often, freely to visiting school groups). Architectural photographer Alan Karchmer and Robert Ivy, FAIA, CEO of the American Institute of Architects, talk about their book Chateau La Coste: Art and Architecture in Provence, which Ivy co-authored and for which Karchmer was the commissioned photographer. Beth Broome, managing editor of Architectural Record, moderates a discussion about this unusual combination of landscape, architecture, and art, of private industry and public benefit. This program complements the exhibition Alan Karchmer: The Architects’ Photographer, which is on view at the Museum through June 2022. The book is available for purchase at the Museum Shop website and in the store.
The Great Indoors / OCTOBER 26, 2020
Learn how our built world, and the buildings in which we spend 90% of our time, affects our mental and physical well-being, our productivity, and our behavior. In her new book, The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of How Buildings Shape Our Behavior, Health, and Happiness (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020), science journalist Emily Anthes explores the pain-killing power of a well-placed window, how room temperature regulates our cognitive performance, and whether a well-designed prison can help support inmates’ psychological needs. This program was supported by the Apgar Fund for Excellence in the Built Environment.
The NBM Climate Action program series has been launched as a result of working with 2021 Honor Award recipient Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which chose to use the celebratory moment as an opportunity to challenge everyone by calling for action that recognizes the urgency of climate change and advocates for a transformational shift in the building industry. The four programs that lead up to the virtual 2021 Honor Award event are being produced in conjunction with SOM, and the Museum will continue the series into the future thereafter.
Getting to Net Zero: Immediate Action in the Building Industry / May 19, 2021
Experts agree that by 2040, climate change left unchecked will lead directly to a series of ecological and humanitarian crises—from inundated coastlines and displaced populations to desertification and food insecurity. Learn how cities across the world are targeting 2040 as the year to achieve significant reductions in carbon and greenhouse emissions. Is the building industry moving quickly enough to do its part in averting these crises? How can it go from grassroots action to lasting, structural change? Can it help the world transition to a carbon-free energy grid? Pamela Conrad, ASLA, principal, CMG Landscape Architecture, founder, Climate Positive Design; Edward Mazria, FAIA, Hon. FRAIC, architect, founder of Architecture 2030; and Julia Raish, senior project manager, Sustainable Buildings, Amazon, discuss the bold steps that the industry needs to take, the potential for an all-electric future, and the opportunities that lie ahead on the path to net zero. The program is facilitated by Marla A. Gayle, AIA, managing director, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
Climate Justice and Social Equity / May 27, 2021
Even as climate change threatens the entire world, vulnerable communities continue to bear the brunt of the crisis. The building industry has a moral obligation to recognize and address this tragedy by examining its own role in perpetuating inequity and leading in the fight for environmental justice. Diane Jones Allen, FASLA, program director, College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs, University of Texas, Arlington; Joyce Coffee, LEED AP, founder and president, Climate Resilience Consulting; Ifeoma Ebo, LEED AP, NOMA, founding director, Creative Urban Alchemy, LLC; Arathi Gowda, AIA, AICP, LEED AP BD+C, associate director, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM); and Tatum Lau, AICP, senior associate and resilience planner, AECOM’s Urbanism + Planning practice, address actions the industry should take and the need to recognize how climate change, economic and social inequity are intertwined. The program is facilitated by Dawveed Scully, AICP, NOMA, associate director, SOM.
“Green Innovation” as Savior? Rethinking Technology / June 3, 2021
The scope of the climate crisis demands solutions from multiple fields and multiple building traditions—as well as a rethinking of technology’s impact on the environment. Is the building industry’s answer to the crisis high-tech or low-tech? Even as innovations in material science and new technologies enable breakthroughs in carbon reduction, indigenous building methods continue to offer new lessons in material conservation and long-term sustainable planning. Christopher Neidl, co-founder, OpenAir; Rob Niven, founder and CEO, CarbonCure Technologies; Wil V. Srubar III, Ph.D., associate professor, University of Colorado Boulder, founder and managing director, Aureus Earth; and Francesca Wahl, senior charging policy manager, public policy and business development, Tesla consider the complex role of technology in achieving net zero carbon and the importance of looking both forward and backward for solutions to the climate crisis. The program is facilitated by Yasemin Kologlu, design director, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
Investing in Our Future / June 10, 2021
Recent years have seen the rise of sustainable investing along with powerful calls for sweeping government action to address climate change. How can green investment contribute to the creation of a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient future? What role can programs like the proposed Green New Deal play in channeling that investment and accelerating the transition to a net zero economy? Audrey Choi, chief sustainability officer, Morgan Stanley; Peggy DaSilva, head of asset management, Allianz Real Estate; James Rhee, founder and CEO, FirePine Group; and Willy Walker, chairman and chief executive officer, Walker & Dunlop, will consider the opportunities and challenges of green investing and the necessity of government action to spur the creation of green infrastructure. The program is facilitated by Kristopher Takács, AIA, director, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM).
Racial and social equity issues are inherent to the built world. The ways we choose to design our buildings, landscapes, interiors, and streets are either the cause or the cure of these disparities. In this new National Building Museum series, learn from architects, landscape architects, planners, interior designers, and other design and design-adjacent professionals as we reflect on current events and the history that brought us here; listen to stimulating conversations; and consider concrete actions that these professions and others are taking to promote justice in the built environment.
The Museum’s efforts to present programs and exhibitions that are fully inclusive have been evolving, especially over the past few years. This series will be a part of our ongoing commitment to ensure that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) professionals will have a place and a voice in the conversations we host.
The Equity in the Built Environment series is generously supported by STUDIOS Architecture and ARUP.
Beauty of Impact: Design & Social Justice
June 22, 2021, 2–3 PM
Designing for social justice puts people and communities first. The beauty of social justice projects is seen in the resulting impact and reflection of the communities they serve. Hear from Nina Briggs, lecturer, Cal Poly Pomona, co-president, L.A. Forum for Architecture & Urban Design; Erin Christensen Ishizaki, partner, Mithun; and Angelita Scott, Ph.D., Allied ASID, director, Community Concept Lead – Standard Development Team, International WELL Building Institute, who have led projects at a variety of scales, from the built environment to the development of curricula, and see how this work can bring about positive mental, physical, and social outcomes for people and communities. Conversely, find out how the design team is impacted by the lessons learned from the people they serve in these projects.
This program will be hosted on the ASID Academy. To register you must log in to the ASID Academy. If you do not have an existing ASID Academy account, you can easily create a free account by clicking “New Customer Registration” on the login page. The ASID Academy is available to the public.
The Rosenwald SChools / MAY 11, 2021
Learn about the Rosenwald Schools, the result of a collaboration between Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald that created nearly 5,000, state-of-the-art schools for African American children throughout the south in the early 20th century. Stephanie Deutsch, preservationist and author of You Need A Schoolhouse; Andrew Feiler, photographer and author of A Better Life for their Children; Marnique Heath, AIA, LEED AP, principal, STUDIOS Architecture; and Brent Leggs, executive director, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, discuss the cultural and architectural significance of the schools in advancing education for Black children in the United States, the ongoing efforts to preserve the facilities as a part of being able to tell the story of their early impact on social justice, civil rights, and their influence on future civil rights advocates, including the late John Lewis.
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE / April 29, 2021
Learn how the Oakland-based architecture and real estate development nonprofit Designing Justice+Designing Spaces (DJDS) is working to end mass incarceration by building infrastructure that addresses its root causes. Deanna Van Buren, co-founder, executive director, and design director of DJDS, discusses her firm’s work to counter the traditional adversarial and punitive architecture of justice by creating spaces and buildings for restorative justice, rehabilitation, and community building, and reentry housing for people coming out of incarceration.The program is facilitated by Maisie Hughes, ASLA, APA, co-founder, The Urban Studio.
Improving Racial Equity Through Greener Design / March 9
Understand how architects across the U.S. are working to improve the environmental and social sustainability of communities by protecting neighborhoods from gentrification, installing parks and public art exhibits in urban centers, and creating state-of-the-art libraries in financially challenged neighborhoods. Antoine Bryant, Assoc. AIA, project manager and business development at the Houston office of Moody Nolan; Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA, a principal and the director of global diversity at Perkins&Will in Los Angeles; and Rico Quirindongo, AIA, formerly a principal at DLR Group, now Deputy Director for City of Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development; discuss their work in these cities. Projects discussed include Midtown Public Square in Seattle; Destination Crenshaw in Los Angeles; and the Library Learning Center in Houston. Improving Racial Equity Through Greener Design is based on the American Institute of Architects’ Blueprint for Better campaign to transform the day-to-day practice of architecture to achieve a zero-carbon, resilient, healthy, just, and equitable built environment.
NATIONAL PARk SERVICE / January 26, 2021
Hear Terry E. Brown, federal agency coordinator of America250 and former National Park Service (NPS) superintendent of historic Fort Monroe National Monument; Calvin Pearson, executive director, Project 1619; Deanda Johnson, Midwest Regional manager, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program at NPS; and Enimini Ekong, acting project manager for WASO Workforce & Inclusion and Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, program manager of interpretation, education, and cultural resources, discuss how the NPS is telling the whole story of America’s history through inclusive interpretation.
MARDI GRAS INDIAN CULTURAL CAMPUS / OCTOBER 14, 2020
Learn how the Mardi Gras Indian Cultural Campus is helping to reverse the negative impacts of economic disinvestment, political neglect, and natural disasters that have eroded community pride and participation in New Orleans’ Central City, a once-thriving hub of African American civic and commercial life. Austin Allen, Ph.D., ASLA, associate professor of practice in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas Arlington; Chief Tyrone Casby, now retired, former Principal of Landry High School in New Orleans, Louisiana; and Matt A. Williams, ASLA, urban planner, City of Detroit, discuss their roles in establishing this culturally significant site. The program is moderated by Ujijji Davis Williams, ASLA, a landscape architect, urban planner, and associate with SmithGroup. Allen, Davis Williams, and Williams are members of the Black Landscape Architect’s Network (BlackLAN), whose mission is to increase the visibility, support the interests, and foster the impact of Black practitioners in landscape architecture. Click here to see images of the campus and one of the buildings. All photos courtesy Matt A. Williams.
Spotlight on Design is generously supported by the Revada Foundation of the Logan Family and the Anthony and Keiko Greenberg Foundation.
Spotlight on Design lectures feature many of the world’s premier voices in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and design. Browse highlights from previous years on our YouTube channel, and enjoy other video and audio recordings on this page.
DAVID RUBIN LAND COLLECTIVE / APRIL 27, 2021
Learn how empathy for the public’s engagement with memorials and park spaces informs the work of Philadelphia-based landscape architecture, urban design, and planning firm DAVID RUBIN Land Collective. Founding principal David A. Rubin, FASLA, FAAR, discusses the joys and challenges of navigating Washington, D.C.’s complex federal and local public space environment, all while steadfastly emphasizing and advocating for the equity, access, and inclusion of every visitor. Projects discussed include Canal Park, Potomac Park Levee, the National World War I Memorial, and Franklin Park. Jennifer Reut, acting editor of Landscape Architecture Magazine, facilitates the program.
Walter Hood / March 25, 2021
Hear Walter Hood, founding principal and creative director of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, California, describe how the elevation of neglected spaces in urban neighborhoods through landscape interventions and public art offers opportunities to address stories of marginalized communities. He also discusses his book Black Landscapes Matter, a collection of essays co-authored with Grace Mitchell Tada, which acknowledges the widespread erasure of black geographies and cultural landscapes, and sheds important light on recognizing and honoring their significance. The program is introduced by Torey Carter-Conneen, the American Society of Landscape Architect’s CEO, and facilitated by Maisie Hughes, ASLA, APA, co-founder, The Urban Studio.
The Netherlands Carillon / DECEMBER 8, 2020
The Netherlands Carillon (bell tower), in Arlington, Virginia, is a 1950s gift from the people of The Netherlands to the people of the U.S. in thanks for aid during and after World War II. Learn from Kay Fanning, historian, U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, Thomas Jester, FAIA, principal, Quinn Evans, and Diederik Oostdijk, author of Bells for America: The Cold War, Modernism, and the Netherlands Carillon in Arlington as they discuss the controversy surrounding the design and siting of the Carillon during the Cold War and the current renovations and upgrade of the tower to a Grand Carillon as part of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of The Netherlands by the U.S. military. The program is moderated by Thomas Luebke, FAIA, secretary, U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. This program was presented as part of the National Building Museum’s 40th Birthday weeklong celebration. Additional funding for this program was provided by the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands.
ODA / NOVEMBER 10, 2020
Hear from Eran Chen, founding principal of New York–based ODA, on the firm’s exploration into new fractal forms in architecture and its impact on the future of cities and society. Chen will discuss the evolution of his practice, including projects such as Washington D.C.’s West Half and The Wharf; 10 Jay Street, in New York City; and a new master plan for the Astoria neighborhood in Queens, New York.
FXCOLLABORATIVE / OCTOBER 20, 2020
Learn about the Hybrid, a new breed of co-development where not-for-profit and for-profit clients cohabitate, integrating two or more divergent uses such as an untraditional mix of schools, sacred spaces, residential, retail, and office, into a single, purpose-built building. Hear about the opportunities and challenges inherent to these projects, with a focus on design and construction implications, as well as their potential impacts on institutions, communities, social justice, and the urban fabric. Dan Kaplan, FAIA, senior partner with New York City–based FXCollaborative, and Miriam Harris, executive vice president of Trinity Place Holdings, developer of the FXCollaborative-designed 77 Greenwich, explore how the Hybrid may allow for the creation of more equitable cities through development opportunities and partnerships between seemingly divergent client types.
MASS Design Group / August 19, 2020
This program celebrates a decade of mission-driven, humanitarian work by the nonprofit, Boston-based architecture studio MASS Design Group. Michael Murphy, a founding partner, shows how the firm’s mission—to research, build, and advocate for architecture that promotes justice and healing—is demonstrated in hospitals, schools, and memorials. The program is moderated by Susan Piedmont-Palladino, curator of the exhibition Justice is Beauty: The Work of MASS Design Group, which will be available for viewing when the Museum opens to the public. Purchase the firm’s first monograph, Justice is Beauty: Mass Design Group, at the Museum Shop.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library / June 24, 2020
This program focuses on the major transformation completed in spring 2020 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, Washington, D.C.’s central library, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and opened in 1972. Learn about the significant design decisions that were made to update the building to meet 21st century needs, and the challenges of renovating a historic Modernist structure. Panelists include: Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director, D.C. Public Library; Francine Houben, founding partner and creative director, Mecanoo architecten; and Gary Martinez, FAIA, partner, OTJ Architects. Additional funding for this program was provided by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.