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The forthcoming Bible museum from Hobby Lobby president Steve Green will begin to rise on a trapezoidal lot two blocks south of the Mall next month. But according to lead architect David Greenbaum of SmithGroupJJR, the design process, which seeks to transform an old refrigeration plant into a museum worthy of D.C.’s most trafficked historic thoroughfare, hasn’t been simple.
“It’s a complicated project, in that we’re trying to retrofit an existing building,” he says. “How do you add on and provide a brand identity for the new museum while still keeping character of this historic building?” There was also a snag with the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which oversees the look of D.C. architecture and rejected early museum designs for their external Biblical iconography.
As Adam and Steve can attest, plenty of the Good Book’s believers glean literal meaning from its verses. As this plan moves forward, perhaps the new museum’s design team and construction crew could use some heavenly guidance from its own celebrated tome.
1. Use the National Mall as a staging ground.
Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field.
2. Don’t overshoot your budget…
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
3. …which should be really, really big.
Then the king commanded, and they quarried great stones, costly stones…
(1 Kings 5:17)
4. Measure carefully, in archaic units.
And you shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide; the altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits.
5. Build only in bling.
Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.
6. Employ magic, silent construction machinery.
…there was neither hammer nor axe nor any iron tool heard in the house while it was being built.
(1 Kings 6:7)
7. But in the end, none of this means anything at all.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Rendering courtesy of Museum of the Bible