The design selection process for the Bezos Learning Center planned at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum may sound a bit like “America’s Got Talent” for architects — but the $130 million prize is well beyond game-show proportions.
That’s how much money Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is giving to have the 50,000-square-foot center built as an addition to the museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It’s part of Bezos’ record-setting $200 million donation for the National Air and Space Museum’s renovation, which was announced last summer.
The Bezos Learning Center would feature activities that inspire students to pursue innovation and explore careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and math — or STEAM, for short. The Smithsonian stressed that the center wouldn’t just focus on aerospace, but connect to all of the institution’s museums.
In January, the Smithsonian put out the call for design firms to submit proposals for the center, which would replace a pyramid-shaped restaurant that was built on the museum grounds in 1988 but ceased operation in 2017. Last week, museum planners unveiled five design proposals. The architects behind the proposals are identified only as Firm A, Firm B, Firm C, Firm D and Firm E.