The NAS Building

The Wings

In the 1940s and 1950s, the government increased its use of the scientific advisory services of the Academy and National Research Council, which necessitated additional space for the institution. The west and east wings and the auditorium were added in 1962, 1965, and 1970, respectively, achieving a symmetry compatible with Bertram Goodhue's original plan. The exteriors retain the building's original style. These additions were carried out by the firm of Harrison and Abramowitz, whose senior member, Wallace K. Harrison (1895-1981), had been a young draftsman in Goodhue's office at the time the main building was designed.10 Careful attention was given to using the same stone work pattern and repeating the bronze window trim motifs, which show the head of Imhotep, an Egyptian priest who, after his death, was deified as a god of medicine. The wings' exterior doors match Goodhue's in size; like his, they have eight panels, but unlike his they lack decoration. Prometheus and Athena, frequently represented in the original building's decoration, appear on the interior and exterior door handles on the west wing doors.

A gift from the Equitable Life Assurance Society made construction of the west wing possible in time for the Academy's 1963 centennial. A score of industries and foundations, including Ford and Rockefeller, contributed to the Academy Centennial Building Fund, providing funds for the east wing and some support for the construction of the auditorium. In the wings, on two floors and a ground floor, are four conference rooms, a refectory, and about 60 offices occupied by executive personnel of the Academy and the National Research Council. The major portion of the Research Council staff is housed in office space elsewhere in Washington. The west wing corridor and the rotunda—actually a 25-foot-square room called "the rotunda" because of a circular architectural element in the ceiling—are used for art exhibits. A small permanent collection, displayed throughout the building, supplements the changing exhibits.

A courtyard, formed when the west wing was added, is landscaped with flowering shrubs; linden trees circle George B. Jolley's copper fountain. "Pod," a sculpture by Harry Bertoia, is also found in the court, which is entered from the lounge adjacent to the executive dining room.

Read More:

... A Temple of Science  Recognition of Need  The Architect  The Setting and the Grounds  Description of the Building  The Façade  The Window Panels  The Doors  The Main Foyer and the Great Hall  The Library and the Members' Room  The Lecture Room and the Board Room  The Wings  The Auditorium  The Albert Einstein Memorial


10 The Academy chose the 50th anniversary celebration of the building, in 1974, to honor Harrison by presenting him with an illuminated scroll. Harrison is considered one of the most influential figures in architecture of his generation, and designed buildings in many cities. He is best known as the codesigner of Rockefeller Center, chief architect of the United Nations buildings, director of the overall design of Lincoln Center, and architect of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, all in New York City.

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