National Gallery of Art East Building and Pavilion Cafe

Washington, DC

Originally designed by I.M. Pei and constructed in 1974, the National Gallery of Art’s East Building holds a commanding presence on the National Mall, due largely to its striking Tennessee marble facade. After 35 years, tight 1/8” joint design coupled with age-related changes in the building’s structure, resulted in overstress to the stone’s anchorage systems with individual 450 lb stones beginning to pull away from the building.

MGAC was retained by Robert Silman Associates to help validate technical challenges of the original, highly-customized stone anchorage system. As part of a building forensics team, MGAC provided project support to the structural engineer and envelope consultant. Specialists were brought on to develop customized anchorage systems for removal and resetting of the 16,200 individually-supported stone panels. MGAC added considerable value with development of new stone anchorage systems, mockup management, construction logistics, and procurement strategies. Special attention was given to facilitate safe exterior building access with minimum disruption to visitation and security.

Located within the National Gallery of Art’s 6.1-acre Sculpture Garden, the Pavilion Cafe offers year-round food service and indoor seating to museum patrons. The Pavilion, originally constructed in 1988 and renovated in 2000, was in need of a refresh to modernize its food service facilities. Guest Services Inc., the cafe’s operator, enlisted MGAC to provide owner’s representation and project management for the seven-month renovation. MGAC established the project budget and schedule, oversaw selection and management of the General Contractor, and led selection of food service vendors and equipment. MGAC also led the punch listing and project close-out processes.

Due to the Pavilion’s high-profile location and a desire for the Sculpture Garden to remain fully operational during construction, the project faced a number of challenges. To preserve the visitor experience, MGAC strategically staged a fence around the pavilion as construction progressed, hiding it from public view. The careful flow of materials to the site ensured that construction did not disrupt traffic on and around the National Mall.


16,000 SF Stone Facade;
6,000 SF Pavilion Cafe




2013 Craftsmanship Award, Washington Building Congress


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