Paleobiology Laboratory, National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian Institution • Washington, DC

Cost-effective problem-solving for a vital Smithsonian research area

This renovation in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History provided much-needed HVAC system upgrades to support the museum’s Paleobiology Department, which studies terrestrial and marine ecosystems dating back hundreds of millions of years. The modernization encompassed 30,000 square feet of laboratory, shop, and workspace in the building’s east wing basement and ground floor. Mueller engineered and designed the replacement of all mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.

Mueller conducted various testing and determined the existing building HVAC systems did not have sufficient supply air, return air, and exhaust airflow rates and static pressures to support new space uses, and the air handling unit (AHU) ductwork in the penthouse had severe pressure drop issues. Our design focused on replacing portions of the supply air duct systems with more efficient systems, increasing air delivery capacity without increasing the input power to the AHU. Return air ductwork and transfer air fans were added, and the lab exhaust fan retrofitted with a new motor and mechanical drive. Spaces supported by these and other critical improvements include specimen and fossil work areas, collections areas, a casting room, an acid bath lab, and a welding shop.


Quinn Evans

Client History

2024: National Air and Space Museum Revitalization; Quinn Evans
2022: Molina Family Latino Gallery, National Museum of American History; Quinn Evans
2020: National Native American Veterans Memorial
2019: National Air and Space Museum Dulles Collections Center; Ayers Saint Gross
2018: Conservation Pavilion, National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute; Quinn Evans
2016: Hirshhorn Conservation Laboratory; Quinn Evans
2014: Paleobiology Laboratory, National Museum of Natural History; Quinn Evans
2014: National Air and Space Museum Exterior Envelope and HVAC Replacement Study; Quinn Evans
2014: Freer Gallery of Art Auditorium Renovation; Quinn Evans
2013: National Postal Museum William H. Gross Stamp Gallery; Quinn Evans
2010: National Air and Space Museum Electrical Systems Replacement; Quinn Evans
2008: National Museum of Natural History Sant Ocean Hall; Quinn Evans
2004: Osteoprep Lab Building Ventilation Study & Repairs; Quinn Evans
2002: Sackler Gallery Mezzanine; GWWO Architects
1987: National Air and Space Museum Third-Floor Renovation; JMT Architecture
1987: Castle Building North Tower Expansion; JMT Architecture
1987: Renwick Gallery - HVAC Analysis; JMT Architecture
1986: Paul E. Garber Facility Preservation, Restoration & Storage Facility; JMT Architecture
1986: National Museum of American History Engines of Change Exhibit; JMT Architecture
1985: Arts & Industries Building Master Plan
1984: American Art Museum Lincoln Gallery
1980: Cooper-Hewitt Museum Environmental Controls & Electrical Systems Upgrades
1978: National Portrait Gallery HVAC Renovations