Last week, the City of Manassas, Virginia broke ground on an addition to its museum.
Initially built as a temporary exhibit to celebrate the City of Manassas’ centennial, the Manassas Museum opened in 1974 and relocated to its current facility in Historic Downtown Manassas in 1991. The city engaged GWWO to reimagine how a renewed civic design could help the museum in fulfilling its mission to share the city’s rich history and significant regional impact with the community and visitors alike. The addition is slated to open in 2023 in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Manassas community.
“We are so honored to be working with the City of Manassas to reimagine this museum, which is a civic icon for the community,” says Terry Squyres, Senior Principal from GWWO. “The museum is and will continue to be a treasure within the community, and a vital part of the City’s cultural life.”
Prominently located in the Historic Downtown, the Manassas Museum is a community center, which provides space for education, conversation, and connection that instills regional pride. The addition and renovation will transform the physical relationship between the museum, museum lawn, and city by removing an existing isolating courtyard wall and siting the addition to engage the community, fully activate the museum green space, and improve visitor flow. The expansion will elevate the museum’s presence, responding to its role as a significant piece of civic architecture while respecting the scale of the historic core and view of the building’s iconic cupola. Visible from the nearby train station, the expansion will attract new visitors to learn the story of Manassas and provide opportunities to educate, unite, and grow the community.
“We are excited to see the finished product during our 150th year as a community,” said Mayor Micelle Davis-Younger. “This renewed museum will be a great place for our community with meeting spaces and new exhibit space. We have confidence that GWWO has designed a future for the Manassas Museum.”
The 4,800-square-foot addition includes a new special exhibit hall, offices, and support space. Contextual yet distinct, the new addition flanks the building’s existing wings and graciously welcomes those arriving in Downtown. Clad in pre-patinated copper, the form of the special exhibit hall opens to the park creating dynamic views that engage visitors and the community. The administrative wing, located opposite the special exhibit hall, is a quieter composition complementing the existing building. A re-envisioned courtyard and amphitheater link the lawn and museum together and will provide flexible outdoor programming space activating both the museum and the lawn. A new entry and corridors with exhibits and transparent glazing along the courtyard will create a continual dialogue between the museum and outdoor spaces. Additionally, renovations to the existing building include a new exhibit space with views into an expanded collections storage area.
The addition and renovation incorporates many sustainable best practices including bird-friendly glazing, low-albedo roofing, LED lighting, daylighting in all occupied spaces, and upgrades to high-efficiency mechanical equipment with energy recovery.