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Architects Preliminary Model for the Museum Wing Addition

Office of Philip Johnson (1906–2005)

78.74 cm x 69.22 cm x 20 cm (31 in. x 27 1/4 in. x 7 7/8 in.)
Foam-Cor, polystyrene, plastic, and wood

Not on view


Philip Johnson’s three-dimensional model for the new museum wing addition arrived at Dumbarton Oaks in late October, 1959. The design for the curved, glass-walled building—essentially the design that was eventually built—employed eight domed cylindrical gallery rooms, each defined by eight large-scale “columns” and glass walls, with an open-air space for a fountain and a pool in the center. In both this model as well as the early plans, much of the building’s exterior is sheathed by plantings of unspecified variety and height. Like the preliminary plan of August 27, 1959 [see AR.AP.MW.PC.001], the model sites the building to the south of the institutional entrance on 32nd Street, employing an additional cylindrical room as an off-axis entrance or connector to the northwest corner of the museum wing. Although Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss were troubled by the prominent siting of this modern structure at the corner of R and 32nd Streets, they were excited by the design. Mildred Bliss remarked, “We think it’s time for us to do something really new.”

J. Carder