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1.7 acres, a block-through site between 14th Street and 15th Street on the Washington Mall

Index to Projects in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

Gross Floor Area
258,000 s/f

United States Holocaust Memorial Council, a federal agency established by Congress in 1980

Time Frame
Planning: 10/86

Construction: 10/89
Public Opening: Day of Remembrance / April 23, 1993

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Washington, D.C
Completed 1993


Lead Designer: James Ingo Freed


Museum and memorial building with permanent and temporary exhibition space, conference, research and educational facilities

Click on image to enlarge

This building is not simply a museum, but a living institution dedicated to research, teaching, contemplation and commemoration.  It has been designed to offer several layers of reality that the visitor penetrates one by one to arrive at the core of the experience: the evocation of the Holocaust and its aftermath.

The hybrid brick and limestone exterior helps to unify stylistically dissimilar neighbors. The main façade on 15th Street, however, is a screen that aims not for synthesis but for spatial and emotional disengagement from the city. The museum is organized internally around the skylit Hall of Witness, a three-story arrival, distribution and circulation center that infuses stairs, walls, layered space and shadows with suggestive disquiet. Devoid of literal reference to the Holocaust, it speaks instead through dualities of dark / light, transparency / opacity, openness / constriction. Architectural form is abstract and open-ended so that different people read the building differently, each sifting it through his accumulated personal experience; the museum is a resonator of memory.

Exhibitions are arranged chronologically in descending rotations around the central space. The experience concludes in the hexagonal Hall of Remembrance, a quasi-freestanding memorial chamber filled with light and the emptiness of loss. Unlike the more public Hall of Witness, this solemn space and its eternal flame invite quiet contemplation.

Major Components

36,000 s/f permanent exhibitions; 8,000 s/f temporary exhibitions; 16,000 s/f Archives / Research Center/100,000-volume Library; 7,500 s/f Hall of Witness; 6,000 s/f Hall of Remembrance; 3,600 s/f Hall of Learning; 4,300 s/f Education / Conference Center; 5,500 s/f Meyerhoff Theater (415 fixed seats); 2,000 s/f Cinema (180 fixed seats); 1,300 s/f bookstore; commissioned art (Joel Shapiro bronze and Richard Serra steel sculptures, Ellsworth Kelly and Sol LeWitt painting installations); 18,000 s/f ceremonial courtyard (Raoul Wallenburg Place).




American Institute of Architects:
National Honor Award



Building Stone Institute: Annual Tucker Award



New York Society of Architects:
Architectural Achievement Award



The National Foundation for Jewish Culture:
The Sixth Annual Jewish Cultural Achievement Award


Pei Cobb Freed & Partners services

Architectural Services; Interior Design of public spaces; coordination with associate architect on construction documents and construction administration


Associate Architect

Notter Finegold & Alexander, Washington, D.C.



Weiskopf & Pickworth, New York, NY


Mechanical / Electrical

Cosentini Associates LLP, New York, NY



Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Inc., New York, NY



Jules Fisher & Paul Marantz, New York, NY



Jules Fisher Associates, New York, NY



Photo credits

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