Newseum – New approach to design

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The official opening of the Newseum, a state-of-the art, $450 million museum of news in Washington, D.C., brings a successful end to over six years of planning, production, on-site installation and the transformation of dreams into reality.

kubik, a world-leader in the design and production of exhibits, environments and events for cultural institutions, was challenged with delivering the exhibits, graphics and artifact installation for the 250,000 square feet of exhibition space, including the Newseum’s 15 theaters, 14 major galleries, 130 interactive stations and two cutting-edge broadcast studios.

“Bringing in the exhibition designers and producers and tying them right into the design and construction of the building — integrating of the exhibits and galleries right into the actual physical infrastructure — is an approach that’s unique to this museum and it marks an entirely new way of building a cultural centre,” said Sam Kohn, CEO and Principal, kubik “Looking at the results, the Newseum clearly represents the future in terms of design and construction of galleries. I think we are going to see a lot more of this approach in the industry. We are witnessing the future.”

Working on-site with partners James Polshek of Polshek Partners and lead exhibit designer, Chris Miceli of Ralph Appelbaum and Associates, kubik was responsible for housing one of the foremost collections of news artifacts in the world.

“At kubik, we honestly believe there are no limits to what can be achieved with exhibits, if you can imagine it, we can build it” said Kohn. “Ralph Appelbaum and Associates’ produced fantastic designs and our team at kubik were completely committed to finding unique, new and exciting ways to bring these designs and the exhibits to life.”

Many of the project elements throughout the Newseum required kubik to develop new approaches and new ways to utilize materials.

“We have been extremely impressed with kubik‘s level of service, workmanship and integrity throughout this process,” said Peter S. Prichard, President of the Newseum. “At the Newseum, kubik has met every project challenge — and there were hundreds — with speed, competence and good humor. It is hard for me to imagine that there is a better exhibit fabricator or installer in the world.”

“kubik undertook a great deal of research and development in order to fabricate and install many of the gallery elements in line with the overall design plan,” said Bryan Schultz, Senior Manager/Exhibit Services, Newseum. “Looking at the quality and complexity of the exhibits, it is clear kubik did an incredible job.”

One such exhibit is the Journalists Memorial, a sweeping wall of glass inscribed with the names of over 1,800 reporters, photographers and broadcasters who have died reporting the news. The soaring memorial wall is two stories high and made of 24 panels of glass — each sheet is four feet by 11 feet and weighs over 800 pounds. The design called for the memorial to arc out overhead of the visitors below. kubik worked with an on-staff engineer to design and produce a unique machine that used suction cups and hydraulics to lift, hold, and assist with the challenging installation of the 800 pounds of glass panels.

“The level of precision and the attention to detail that this installation required demanded the highest-quality products and the total commitment of all members of the design and installation teams,” said Darryl Baggley, Director, Museums & Special Projects, kubik.

For kubik, the honour of winning and working on such a prestigious project is equaled only by the opportunity to collaborate with a team of respected partners.

“I don’t know that I have ever seen such tremendous cooperation between project partners,” said Baggley. “From the Newseum’s Peter Prichard and Bryan Schultz to Chris Miceli at Ralph Appelbaum Associates to Polshek Architects, everyone came together in a way I’ve never seen before”

Teamwork was an essential component of completing such a large scale undertaking. “kubik‘s diplomacy, cooperation and uncompromising commitment to this project are second to none. They always put the needs of the client first and are an outstanding team,” said Prichard.

In all, kubik shipped over 100 tractor trailers of materials to the Newseum, which now houses over 81,000 pounds of artifacts including a bombed out car, a shrapnel-riddled news truck and an original Berlin Wall guard tower. kubik also produced over 4,000 graphic panels, including every Pulitzer Prize-winning photo since 1942 and video interviews with nearly 70 Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers.

“There were so many moments during the fabrication and installation of exhibits that just stopped us in our tracks. From the shipping and installation of the World Trade Center antenna, to watching the re-assembly of the largest section of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany, to being able to see just about every iconic news image of every global event from the past 50 years — it was an incredible project to be a part of,” said Kohn.

The Newseum stands just beside the Canadian Embassy on famous Pennsylvania Avenue between the U.S. Capitol and the White House, showcasing world-class architecture from Polshek Partnership Architects, exhibit design from Ralph Appelbaum and Associates and exhibit production and installation from kubik.

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