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First Museum devoted to the history of the US Army opens

The National Museum of the United States Army (NMUSA) is the first cultural organisation to tell the story of the oldest branch of the United States military. 

© Dave Burk | SOM
© Dave Burk | SOM

The building, which is located 20 miles outside of Washington, D.C., is designed to serve as a centre of education, and the Army’s symbolic front door. The 185,000sq ft museum walks visitors through every generation of the United States Army and celebrates the story of the individual soldier.

Spanning 84 acres across the bucolic Fort Belvoir Military Installation in Virginia, the LEED Silver-certified museum is designed in a series of pavilions for exhibits and special events. Part of SOM’s design and planning for the future of the site also includes a quiet memorial garden, a parade field and grandstand, and an Army Trail with interpretive stations. The building, leveraging the site’s natural topography, rests atop a plateau to evoke a sense of monumentality. 

“Symbolism and community were at the core of our design,” said Colin Koo, SOM design partner. “We wanted to create a place where veterans and their families could feel at home, and establish a new center of national significance that would, in its architecture, express that very significance and evoke three ideals: discipline, modesty, and rigorousness.”

The building achieved LEED Silver certification through a variety of sustainable features, such as increased insulation, improved glazing, high-efficiency LED lighting, automatic daylighting controls and occupancy sensors and a green roof. The museum minimises the use of energy and water, creates healthy spaces for visitors and employees and engages actively with the outdoor environment.

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