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Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian's Kogod Courtyard, built in 2007 as a modern complement to the nineteenth-century museum's Greek Revival–style architecture, is an oasis in downtown Washington, DC.

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KOGOD COURTYARD AT THE SMITHSONIAN

The Smithsonian's Kogod Courtyard, built in 2007 as a modern complement to the nineteenth-century museum's Greek Revival–style architecture, is an oasis in downtown Washington, DC.

The courtyard adjoins the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, which is a part of the National Portrait Gallery—one of the oldest federal structures in Washington, DC.

smithsonian kogod courtyard pool
The strikingly contemporary Kogod Courtyard was designed by the architectural firm Foster + Partners, and is shielded by an enormous glass-and-aluminum canopy with a surface area of approximately 37,500 square feet. Each of the 864 glass panes is slightly different, and the entire structure is supported by eight cylindrical steel columns.

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While the glass canopy is captivating, my favorite design element in the courtyard is the water scrim feature designed by landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson. Her design, which is a shallow series of rectilinear pools that run the entire length of the space, also includes plantings of olive and ficus trees, and white marble planters that offer a beautiful contrast to the granite floor.

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The Smithsonian Portrait Gallery's Kogod Courtyard is free and open daily from 11:30 am to 7:00 pm. Added bonus: Free public wireless Internet access inside the courtyard!

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