Perkins & Will to Design Bezos Learning Center Inspired By ‘Spiral Galaxy’


Architecture firm Perkins & Will has been chosen to design the Bezos Learning Center, a destination for programming and activities at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian Institution selected Perkins & Will from five shortlisted firms out of an original 23 entries, due to the firm’s concept for a space influenced by the shape of a spiral galaxy.

SEE ALSO: Developer Legion Files Permits to Demolish Office Building It Just Bought for $58M

The shortlisted firms were also judged on experience designing cultural and education spaces, the credentials of their management teams, and their aesthetic approaches, according to Perkins & Will.

“The spiral galaxy — our source of creative inspiration — is all about infinite possibilities,” Ralph Johnson, design director for Perkins & Will and lead designer for the Bezos Learning Center conceptual approach and vision, said in a prepared statement.

Some of Johnson’s previous award-winning work includes the Shanghai Natural History Museum and Suzhou Science and Technology Museum in China, and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos donated $200 million to fund the Smithsonian project, with $70 million allocated for renovation of the National Air and Space Museum and $130 million used for the development of the Bezos Learning Center. 

The Bezos Learning Center will be three stories high and span 50,000 square feet to house science, arts and technology programming as well as activities for students and other groups. It will face the National Mall and also include exhibition spaces, a public observatory and a restaurant.

“As one of the largest and most visited aerospace museums in the world, the National Air and Space Museum influences millions of visitors every year,” Bridget Lesniak, managing principal at Perkins & Will, said in a prepared statement. 

Other members of Perkins & Will’s Bezos Learning Center team include designer Tom Mozina, project principal Zena Howard and education programming and planning specialist Aimee Eckmann.

Keith Loria can be reached at