Smithsonian readies $650M initial phase of South Campus overhaul

The Smithsonian Institution's Smithsonian Castle is seen at the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The Smithsonian Institution is inching closer to kicking off work on its massive renovation of its 17-acre South Mall campus, which includes the historic Smithsonian Castle.

The museum system is putting out the call for qualified firms to design the revitalization effort, with as much as $7.5 million up for grabs for architectural and engineering work at both the Castle and the adjacent Arts and Industries Building.

The work is part of a broader, $2 billion project that includes a host of changes for the museums and gardens along Independence Avenue SW, from Seventh to 12th streets. Federal planners signed off on a new master plan for the campus last year, settling on broad details guiding the revitalization of the area, which includes the National Museum of African Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Freer Gallery of Art and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Though that plan includes some general outlines of how the renovation work will proceed, the Smithsonian’s new…

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