Case Studies

Kogod Courtyard, Smithsonian Institute

Project Team

The Smithsonian


Foster + Partners and GGN Ltd.

When modern style collides with a historic treasure, the result can be a disastrous hodge-podge of chaos. Not so with the Smithsonian Institute’s Kogod Courtyard at the renovated Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture in Washington, D.C. By incorporating granite and marble as key design elements, architects successfully designed a contemporary steel and glass enclosure while preserving the historic fabric and character of the U.S Patent Office building.

Signature details of the space include a water scrim – a type of shallow fountain – following the courtyard’s length and eight marble planters that also serve as seating areas. 3,500 square feet Imperial Danby Marble in a Diamond® 8 finish was used for the planters with the largest piece measuring 53 by 11 feet. Coldspring provided more than 22,000 square feet of Diamond® 10 finished granite for the water scrim and accent pavers, and floor box covers. Coldspring’s lighter-toned Mesabi Black® granite was used as accent bands on the floor, while the darker Cold Spring Black granite paved the majority of the floor and the water scrims.

The design team visited the Imperial Danby quarry in Vermont, in addition to touring Coldspring’s fabrication facility and Rockville White® granite quarry. This allowed the design team to experience the granite extraction and fabrication process and to better understand how the marble fabrication would operate.

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