The Smithsonian Institution

Museum Support Center - Pod Labs 3 & 5 Plan

Suitland, MD

The Museum Support Center (MSC) serves as the primary storage and research facility for millions of the Smithsonian Institution’s specimens and artifacts. MSC needed to expand and upgrade its existing facilities to take on more collections while maintaining staff and collections safety. EwingCole developed a master plan, the first in the Smithsonian’s history, that included the upgrade of Pod 3 and the addition of Pod 5, a wet storage space. Pod 3’s design focused on reducing the electrical loads, compartmentalizing collections, and developing energy-efficient building systems. The 72,000 SF project ultimately earned LEED Silver. Pod 5 is a new component at MSC that houses the wet collections of the National Museum of Natural History (and over 450,000 gallons of flammable or potentially explosive liquids). Across both projects, procedures for the safe use of hazardous chemicals were implemented in specially designed, shared spaces within the labs. The integrated design approach also minimizes the distribution of utilities above collection materials to reduce the risk of damage to valuable artifacts. The storage compartments reduce the impact of fire and allow the Smithsonian to maintain different environmental conditions for various materials in storage.