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Renewal of an American Icon - The NASM National Mall Building

Opened in July 1976, the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) National Mall Building is a 748,000 gross sq. ft. facility that includes approximately 161,000 sq. ft. of exhibit galleries and the world’s largest collection of air and spacecraft artifacts.

The building’s systems, original to the 1976 building, have exceeded their useful life and are unable to maintain desired interior ambient conditions. Analysis of the deformation of the existing “Tennessee Pink marble” cladding concluded that the entire façade must be replaced. During this presentation, Charles Obi and Michael Henry will discuss the planning and design efforts that have led to this LEED-Gold project to revitalize the building envelope and terraces, modernize MEP systems, improve energy efficiency, upgrade the structure’s blast and seismic resistance, and renovate interior spaces, including exhibit galleries.

Organized by: AIA|DC Public Architects Committee and the Smithsonian Institution 

Presented by: Charles Obi and Michael Henry

Charles E. Obi, RA, LEED AP, has over thirty (30) plus years’ experience in building facilities planning, design, and construction both in the government and private sectors. Charles joined the Smithsonian Institution Office of Planning, Design, and Construction in October 2004 as a design manager and is currently the Program Executive Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Capital Program at two (2) NASM facilities – the flagship Museum in Washington, DC and the Steven Udvar Hazy Center, Virginia. He has held positions as an: Architect/Planner and Project Manager with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Office of Facilities Management, Planning, Design and Construction; Architecture Professor and Program Coordinator, College of Southern Nevada; and as a Design/Project Architect with several architecture firms in the Washington DC metro area.

Charles has a B. Arch from the University of Nigeria Nsukka and worked as an architect in Nigeria before attending a graduate program at the State University of New York Buffalo, graduating with an M. Arch in Building Systems Design.

Michael P. Henry, P.E. is the Senior Design Manager for the National Air and Space Museum Mall Building Revitalization Project and has been with the Smithsonian Institution since May 2012. Prior to this, Mr. Henry was a Resident Engineer and then a Project Manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District for various design and construction programs in the DC area. Mr. Henry began his career with the Corps of Engineers, New York District in 1993, managing military construction projects in New Jersey, and then likewise in Germany with the Corps’ Europe District between April 2000 and September 2003Mr. Henry graduated from the Rutgers School of Engineering with a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering and a Bachelor’s of Arts in English.  He is a licensed Professional Engineer in the States of New Jersey and Maryland.

Organized by: AIA|DC Public Architects Committee


After attending this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the background and history that led to the project’s design requirements for the building systems and accessibility, including the coordination of building infrastructure with exhibit installations;
  • Identify the challenges of planning a construction project in an occupied building and the design assist coordination efforts that take place between the design team and the Construction Manager as Constructor (CMc) team during the construction document;
  • Summarize the involvement of external commissions (CFA, NCPC, etc.) on design reviews of buildings that are contributing elements to the National Mall and eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places; and
  • Explore the design strategies used to enable this project to be a candidate for LEED, Gold.