Newseum / Freedom Forum Foundation World Headquarters

2008 Jg13 404

Newseum / Freedom Forum Foundation World Headquarters

Dedicated to journalism and free speech, the Newseum is a visually open and intellectually accessible stage for the public to learn about and interact with the process of newsmaking throughout history.

0025 Newseum Hero1

Exhibit designer, Ralph Appelbaum, once casually asked whether the new building could be arranged like pages of a newspaper. I quickly recognized that this abstract notion cold evolve into a “big idea” that would both organize the complex building program and rationalize the challenging site.

James S. Polshek, Design Partner
0025 Newseum 32

The museum is the principal element of a mixed-use complex that includes offices of the Freedom Forum and residences, as mandated by the District of Columbia. 

0025 Newseum 5
0025 Newseum Narrative

The prominent site, midway between the Capitol and the White House, is defined both by the dense urban fabric of the Penn Quarter and the dynamic L’Enfant-designed diagonal of Pennsylvania Avenue, allowing the Newseum to participate in the great tradition of monumental Washington institutions while simultaneously reinforcing the street life of the neighborhood and the city.

0025 Newseum 4
0025 Newseum 20

Design inspiration was found in the guiding principles of the Freedom Forum – a free press, free speech and the embodiment of a free spirit for the world community. The architectural expression of this mission is a functionally cohesive, meaningful and memorable icon, its 4,500-square-foot clear glass “window” a symbol of openness.

Together with the transparency of the principal façade,  a stone panel engraved with the forty-five words of the First Amendment and exterior terraces at the fifth and sixth levels afford spectacular 180-degree views of the Mall and the Capitol, reinforcing physical and metaphorical connectivity. 

0025 Newseum 25
0025 Newseum Hero4
0025 Newseum 15
0025 Newseum 19
0025 Newseum Exh1
0025 Newseum Int
0025 Newseum 23
0025 Newseum 22
0025 Newseum 7
0025 Newseum 2

Three distinct volumes – analogous to the sections of a newspaper – parallel the Pennsylvania Avenue street wall. Each section has a unique spatial and programmatic function. The exhibit sequence is runs seamlessly through the three discrete but spatially unified volumes. 

0025 Newseum 28
0025 Newseum Hero7
0025 Newseum Ext Audience

Inside, a five-story atrium organizes the Museum experience. Used for public ceremonies and celebrations, this volume serves as the foyer for the Forum, the primary public assembly space and central circulation core.


Washington, DC
645,000 GSF
Galleries, Interactive Exhibits, Conference Center, Roof Terrace, Gift Shop, Residences, Offices, Atrium, Cafe, Television Studios, 120-seat Documentary Theater, 535-seat 4D Theater


Ennead Design Team
James S. Polshek, Joseph Fleischer, Robert Young, Richard Olcott, Tyler Donaldson, Felicia Berger, Kevin McClurkan, Kathleen Kulpa, John Lowery, John Jordan, Charmian Place, Christopher Hall, James Ke, Dean Kim, Youngsun Ko, James Liebman, James Macho, Ashley Mcclaran, Adam Mead, Michael Miller, Allison Reeves, Ed Rice, Matthew Seidel, Crystal Son, Paul Scrugham
Associate Architect, Residential Architect
Esocoff & Associates Architects
Associate Architect, Residential Interiors
Meditch Murphey Architects
Jeff Goldberg/Esto, Aislinn Weidele/Ennead Architects, Robert Young/Ennead Architects


  • 2009
    • National Design Award, Society of American Registered Architects
    • Award of Merit, Society of American Registered Architects/New York Council
    • Washington Building Congress, Craftsmanship Award Winner
  • 2008
    • McGraw-Hill Construction 2008 Best of the Best Cultural Award
    • Best of 2008 Award, Cultural Project of the Year, Mid-Atlantic Construction News
    • Best Entertainment/Arts AV Project, PRO AV Spotlight Award
    • Gold Winner, Best Museum Environment, Event Design Awards (to Ralph Appelbaum Associates)
    • Merit Award, Structural Engineers Association of New York


  • 2012
    • Kennicott, Philip. "American Institute of Architecture Publishes Fifth Edition of its Indispensible Guide to Washington, D.C." (The Washington Post, 5/29/2012)
  • 2008
    • Lebovich, William. "Newseum by Polshek" (ArchitectureWeek, 9/3/2008)
    • Lewis, Roger K. "A Marvel of a Museum and Newsworthy, Too" (The Washington Post, 3/1/2008)
    • Russell, James. "DC's Newseum Celebrates Highs, Lows of Journalism: Review" (, 4/12/2008)
    • Saffir, Barbara J. "Polshek's Newsiest Museum Opens in DC" (Architectural Record, 4/10/2008)
  • 2007
    • Pogrebin, Robin. "Three New Buildings About Communications Are Also Designed to Communicate" (The New York Times, 9/19/2007)
    • Seelye, Katharine Q. "A Museum for Artifacts of the News Media's Hunters and Gatherers" (The New York Times, 5/8/2007)
  • 2003
    • Forgey, Benjamin. "The Newseum That Fits: Glass-Fronted Design Reflects Well as Metaphor of a Free Press" (Washington Post, 10/29/2003)
  • 2002
    • Dean, Andrea Oppenheimer. "Moynihan Beams as Polshek Unveils Newseum Design for D.C." (Architectural Record, 12/2002)
  • 2001
    • Hales, Linda. "Making the Aesthetic Crystal-Clear" (Washington Post, 1/6/2001)