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Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Washington, D.C. | Freelon Adjaye Bond / SmithGroup

The Contemplative Court, one of the signature spaces in the museum, features a glass oculus that allows natural light to filter in through a cascading waterfall, resulting in a quiet reflection. The ceiling required a somber elegance, as well as gloss, to reflect the delicate movement of the water. Natural materials could not be utilized in this ceiling, due to weight, UV degradation, and maintenance. The final finish, a mid-gloss blackened copper with green flecks, was designed and the ceiling panels then perforated to capture the range of light sources, allowing the participant to gaze upward in contemplation.

Finish | Emerald Copper

Scope | Interior ceiling

Gauge | 1mm

Industry | Culture & Community


AZ Award, People’s Choice, 2018

Beazley, Design of the Year, 2017

Metal Architecture Awards, Interiors, 2017


LEED Gold 2018

Photographer | Brad Feinknopf – OTTO