Galaxy-inspired design for Smithsonian’s Bezos Learning Centre

The Lincoln Memorial in the National Mall, Washington DC (Esusek/
Chicago architect Perkins & Will has won a design competition for the Bezos Learning Center, a new facility at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

Located adjacent to the National Mall, which contains the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, the educational centre will be dedicated to STEAM subjects: science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, containing exhibition spaces, a public observatory and a restaurant.

Those visiting will be taught about the universe and aviation through multi-day courses in non-traditional classrooms, collaboration hubs and a studio.

A winner from a shortlist of design students and early-career architects are currently in the running to work with Perkins & Will on the project.

The project’s design is inspired by the shape of a spiral galaxy, representing “infinite possibilities”, according to Ralph Johnson, Perkins & Will’s design director.

Bridget Lesniak, Perkins & Will’s managing principal, said: “As one of the largest and most visited aerospace museums in the world, the National Air and Space Museum influences millions of visitors every year.

“The Bezos Learning Center represents the next major evolution of the museum’s mission, continuing a journey set in motion by the Wright Brothers almost 120 years ago. This is an exceptional opportunity to create a place that unlocks the potential of a new generation of explorers.”

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