The National Museum of the Marine Corps.

Fitting Tribute

The National Museum of the Marine Corps first opened its doors in 2006. Designed by Fentress Architects and owned by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, the circular building centers on a sky-lit structure inspired by the iconic photograph of Marines raising the American flag amidst the rubble at Iwo Jima—the angle of its roof dramatically mirrors the slant of the flagpole.

Currently, the museum—located near the Marine Corps base at Quantico in Virginia—traces the history of the military branch from its inception through the Vietnam era. But that will change following a new, 120,000-square-foot expansion underway that will house exhibits spanning the post-Vietnam years to recent conflicts such as the Gulf wars and Afghanistan.

“A piece of the circle had not been completed,” explains Brian Chaffee of Fentress Architects, who is spearheading the project. “The plan was always to accommodate a future expansion that would be a continuation of gallery space.”

The new construction, to be completed in stages over the next four years, will house an art gallery and studio, a sports gallery, a giant-screen theater, classrooms, a Hall of Valor and administrative offices. The project will double the size of the museum’s restaurant, Tun Tavern—named for the 1770s Philadelphia watering hole where the Marine Corps was first formed.

During January and February 2016, a restored World War II SBD Dauntless dive bomber and a Vietnam-era Sikorsky helicopter were installed in the central gallery and are now on view. The museum will be open to visitors for the remainder of construction.

ARCHITECTURE: BRIAN H. CHAFFEE, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, a principal in charge; CHARLES CANNON, project manager, Fentress Architects, Washington, DC. CONTRACTOR: Balfour Beatty Construction, LLC, Fairfax, Virginia. OWNER’S REPRESENTATIVE: Jacobs Project Management Company, Arlington, Virginia.