The story of the design team behind the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) began shortly after the selection of the museum’s future site on the National Mall. In 2007, the Smithsonian selected Freelon Bond, a collaboration between prominent African American architects Phil Freelon of The Freelon Group and Max Bond of Davis Brody Bond, to lead the museum’s Phase 1 planning work. The Freelon Bond team delivered the 1200-page programming and pre-design document that became the basis for the design of the museum.
Following the successful completion of Phase I in 2008, the Museum Council sponsored an international design competition. Lonnie G. Bunch III, the Museum’s founding director, headed the competition selection committee. This nine-member group included notables in the design community such as Linda Johnson Rice, co-chair of the Museum Council and Chairman of Johnson Publishing Company Inc., Robert Kogod, member of the Smithsonian Board of Regents and president of Charles E. Smith Management LLC, Robert Campbell, architecture critic of the Boston Globe, and Adelle Santos, Dean of the MIT School of Architecture+Planning.
At that time, London-based architect Adjaye Associates (led by David Adjaye) and Washington D.C. based SmithGroup (led by Hal Davis) joined Freelon Bond.* The resulting design team, Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup (FAB/S), was one of six finalists selected to present design proposals to the Smithsonian, ultimately winning the design competition in April of 2009.
*Following the death of Max Bond in 2009, Davis Brody Bond was led by Peter Cook and Rob Anderson