A DC Architectural Gem

Kogod Courtyard

Kogod Courtyard (photo by Lara Dalinsky)

An undulating steel and glass canopy wows visitors who enter the Kogod Courtyard. Inside you’ll find diners from the museum’s café, tourists soaking their weary feet in the shallow fountain running across the space, and students taking advantage of free Wi-Fi in the light and airy setting.

The modern roof seals the center of the old Patent Office Building, currently shared by the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum. Architect Norman Foster designed the roof to have minimal impact on the building by creating a support system that prevents direct contact and weight placement on it.

Unlike most of the other Smithsonian museums located on the Mall, this gem is found in the busy Penn Quarter of downtown D.C. It is my favorite place to bring visitors, not only for the impressive courtyard space, but also for the preserved architecture of the patent offices on the top floor. One of the nation’s finest examples of Greek Revival architecture, the building has undergone recent extensive renovation that showcases architectural features, including skylights, a curving double staircase, porticoes, and vaulted galleries.

The Great Hall

Great Hall of the Old Patent Office (photo by Lara Dalinsky)

Museum Highlights

The building is located on 8th and F Street, NW in Washington, DC. It is right by the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro on the green, yellow, and red lines. For more information on the museum’s history, exhibits, free tours, concerts, and events, visit www.npg.si.edu/inform/courtyard.html. See the Smithsonian’s video below for a glimpse of more museum highlights:

Lara Dalinsky
Lara Dalinsky

Lara was instilled with the travel bug at an early age and has visited over 25 countries. Her mother’s job as a flight attendant enabled a childhood of seeing the world. In addition to being the founding editor of En Route Traveler, Lara also works as the Art Director for the branding firm, Belmont Inc., in Alexandria, VA. In her spare time, she instructs high-energy Zumba dance classes, contributes as a Local Expert to AFAR, enjoys vegetarian cuisine, dabbles in photography and, of course, travels as much as possible.

Where’s your favorite architectural wonder? Share you recommendations in the reply section below.

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