International Spy Museum


International Spy Museum

Washington, DC

70,000 GSF, 6,503 M2

Architecture, Engineering, Historic Preservation


For the world's first museum about espionage, SmithGroupJJR helped lead a design team in the renovation of five buildings, revitalizing the Washington, D.C. area known as “Old Downtown." The spy museum was seen as an anchor for an engaging mixed-use hub of lively storefronts and intrigued passersby. Through the windows, visitors see iconic images of espionage; once inside, an interior “street" parallel to F Street outside draws them in for a fun and singular experience.

Both inside and out, the architecture is animated by moving shadows, spy windows and abstracted imagery of suggesting cryptograms and codes. Visual links between the for-profit activities and the museum stimulate multiple uses and visits. The museum then gives the insider's view of spying, with compelling interactive exhibits and other offerings.

To make the revitalization and spy museum a success, the mixed-use concept activates the building and street front at all hours. While the project breaks new ground as the first-ever spy museum, even more important it shows how to inject vitality into the D.C. streetscape to draw more visitors and businesses downtown - and inside.

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