News & Insights

Consigli Awarded Craftsmanship Award by Washington Building Congress for Renovation of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery

WASHINGTON DC – In recognition of the outstanding skill and quality craftsmanship displayed in the complete renovation of the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C., the Washington Building Congress presented Consigli Construction Co., Inc. with its distinguished Craftsmanship Award.

“We’re grateful to the Washington Building Congress for recognizing our hard work, dedication and craftsmanship, all of which are hallmarks that our company takes pride in,” said President Matthew Consigli. “Every project we take on is important, but the Renwick Gallery meant that we were trusted to preserve a piece of our country’s culture and history so we’re incredibly honored and humbled by this award.”

Consigli was specifically recognized for its work “specialty painting, gold gilding” and with subcontractor Anna Torre Smith for “plaster restoration.”

Originally built in 1859 as the country’s first museum specifically designed for showcasing great works of art to the public, the Renwick Gallery was saved from demolition in 1962 by first lady Jackie Kennedy and offered to the Smithsonian in 1965.

Started in April 2014, the first renovation of the Renwick Gallery in 45 years involved state-of-the-art preservation design, sustainable and energy-efficient technologies and construction techniques to bring the 19th century National Historic Landmark up to 21st century museum standards—from basement to attic. Located in a high-security area, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, construction required creative logistics and constant communication with the Secret Service.

Renovations included:

  • all new LED lighting to reduce the building’s energy usage by more than 70 percent;
  • the replication of the building’s original historic window profile with new blast-proof windows;
  • the reconstruction of two historically accurate vaulted ceilings in the second floor galleries;
  • replacing the building’s M/E/P infrastructure; and
  • new life safety systems.

While installing upgrades located in the tight spaces of the existing roof, the team designed and carefully bolted together 60-foot-long steel trusses among the original heavy timber to ensure the structural integrity and maintain the museum’s historic ceilings – all after finding three false ceilings that needed to be taken down for proper access.

Additionally, a temporary retractable roof system enabled access to cramped attic spaces while safely protecting and preserving historic bow trusses. The innovative use of the temporary roof enclosure system also decreased response time when the roof needed to be sealed for security reasons.

After 20 months of renovation work, the Renwick Gallery reopened in October.

Consigli, a national award-winning construction management firm, has restored and renovated other notable American museums such as the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn., the oldest public art museum in the United States and listed on the National Register of Historic Places; The Sterling and Francine Clark Institute in Williamstown, Mass.; and the Colby College Museum of Art, the largest museum in Maine. Consigli’s work on other National Historic Landmarks includes the renovation and restoration of the New York State Capitol building in Albany, and the restoration of Trinity Church and Old South Church in Boston.