Q+A: Alyson Steele, FAIA on a Museum for All, Not the Few

photograph of Alyson Steele FAIA in the foreground with stairs in the background

The National Museum of the American Latino opened the Molina Family Latino Gallery at the National Museum of American History in June. The 4,500-sq. ft. gallery is the Smithsonian’s first gallery dedicated to the Latino experience and Latino contributions to the United States. Designed to engage multigenerational and cross-cultural audiences, the Molina Family Latino Gallery integrates the universal principles of inclusive and accessible design. The content and overall experience are in English and Spanish and accessible to diverse visitors with varying physical, sensory, and brain-based conditions. Inform sat down for a conversation with Alyson Steele, FAIA, LEED AP, principal-in-charge for Quinn Evans, on the design of the gallery.

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Design Forum’s Cazú Zegers: Ecocentric not Egocentric

Changing our egocentric culture to an “eco-centric” one, says the Chilean architect Cazú Zegers, is when we  see ourselves as part of a complex system that needs to be treated with humility. It’s a message she shares as founder and director of Cazú Zegers Architecture and Foundation +1000. Named among the Latin American architects who break down barriers by Forbes Magazine in 2020, Zegers is a featured speaker for Design Forum: South is Up! June 3-4  at the Ballston Center at Marymount University in Arlington. Register and join her at  aiava.org/design-forum-2022.

In a recent Madame Architect interview, you said “The territory for America is just like monuments for Europe,” and yet student sketchbooks are still not filled with topographies and river paths today. Why are we still stuck on architecture’s monuments elsewhere to contemplate a vernacular future here?

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Through a Prism, Brightly: Baskervill’s Glass Light Hotel & Gallery

pink glass rabbit in a hotel lobby
Clients Doug and Pat Perry commissioned Peter Bremers to create leporine versions of themselves, whose parts were made in the Czech Republic and glued together in situ. Image courtesy of Baskervill.

Hotel lobby art — when it’s bad, it can be good (in that bad sort of way). But, when it’s great, it’s transcendent, which should be a goal of any hotel. The Glass Light Hotel and Gallery in Norfolk falls into the latter category, so named for the collection of Doug and Pat Perry, local arts patrons who purchased a 1912 office building that Baskervill transformed into a glass menagerie, now operated by Marriott’s Autograph Collection.

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Less is More at VA Beach Parks and Rec

Recreation centers used to be highly programmed places. Pools, gyms, basketball courts, tennis courts, handball courts, playgrounds, ball fields, changing rooms, and offices—all defined spaces for specific activities. More meant more. The good ones were regularly maintained and  became community hubs. The not-so-good ones were easy to spot because of their shabbiness, usually because of the cost of maintaining “more.”

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SOM’s New Army Museum Speaks to Diverse Audiences in a Singular Way

There are some 90 museums in the United States and abroad covering individual aspects of the American Army, from its airborne and artillery divisions to general defense to the personal history of General George Patton, himself. The eighth to open in Virginia alone is the most comprehensive among them in terms of its permanent collection and scope, and its exhibitions program is varied to accommodate a variety of audiences. Yet, the new home for the National Museum of the United States Army, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and sitting at the head of 84 acres of land at Fort Belvoir, is entirely singular in its expression.

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