Corcoran School of the Arts and Design

Washington, DC

Transformation of a Historic Landmark into a University Art School

George Washington University, in partnership with the National Gallery of Art (NGA), had an ambitious plan for the multi-phase modernization of the former Corcoran museum, envisioning new teaching spaces, galleries, and offices. With only a limited amount of as-built drawings and documents available, state-of-the-art data gathering and 3D modeling were critical to the renovation of this historic Beaux-Arts building. Laser scanning, ground penetrating radar, CCT pipe camera surveys, and hygrothermal wall analysis were among the many advanced tools used to create a comprehensive model for use during the design and construction phases of this project.

Originally designed in 1897, the building’s dramatic galleries have now been restored for National Gallery of Art exhibitions. The museum’s requirements for light and air quality, combined with the need to meet current energy codes and fit systems into limited spaces within the historic structure, were among the central challenges confronting Mueller’s team of engineers. The team carefully threaded mechanical systems within the attic in order to prevent shadows in the second-floor galleries and meet the NGA’s natural lighting requirements. The university’s program also included a number of specific HVAC requirements for specialized lab and classroom spaces.

New mechanical equipment is now housed on a three-level equipment platform with an egress stair tower near the core of the building, taking the place of an interior courtyard. Features in this array include outdoor units associated with a new variable refrigerant flow system with heat recovery, three DOAS-type air-handling units with exhaust air energy recovery, one large VAV air-handling unit with exhaust air energy recovery, and a gas-fired emergency generator at the roof level. New equipment also includes dust-collection units for the metal and wood shops in the sub-basement. A new high-efficiency heating hot water boiler plant includes three natural gas-fired condensing boilers and a variable volume distribution system. A new direct digital building automation system for control and monitoring of new and existing HVAC systems was also provided, which was integrated into the campus supervisory control and data acquisition system.



Client History

2018: Corcoran School of the Arts and Design; Leo A Daly
2006: Potomac House; Ayers Saint Gross

“Virtual Site Visits Help Control Infection on Project Sites”

Read about it in Building Design + Construction

“A Beaux-Arts Landmark Gets a New Mission (and 50 New Toilets)”

Read about it in The Chronicle of Higher Education

“(Re)dedicated to Art: The Former Corcoran Gallery is Adapted to Suit its New Role”

Read about it in ArchitectureDC magazine

“From Data to Design: Corcoran Modernization Relies on ‘Data Ecosystem’”

Read about it in Papyrus magazine

“3D Model Plays Key Role In Modernizing Gallery”

Get the full engineering coverage in ENRMidAtlantic

View additional Preservation and Performing and Fine Arts projects

  • It’s like a big Swiss watch…it’s like a big machine.

    Steve Gillis, PE, VP, Mueller Associates
    Engineering News-Record, June 13, 2017
  • It’s like a big Swiss watch…it’s like a big machine.

    Steve Gillis, PE, VP, Mueller Associates
    Engineering News-Record, June 13, 2017