The Arts and Industries Building (AIB), a National Historic Landmark designed by Cluss and Schulze Architects in 1879, was the first structure built to house the U.S. National Museum. It is one of the finest examples of historic exposition architecture in the country. Its 19th century state of the art fire proof masonry walls and light weight iron trusses and purlins support 46 different roof areas. The interior was so spectacular that it hosted President Garfield’s Inaugural Ball when it opened in 1881.
The AIB has a a central rotunda 100 feet tall and four halls and courts 53 feet tall which are surrounded by eight ranges. In the last 50 years, some of these high areas were filled in with additional floors but otherwise very few changes were made. In 2009, it was the Smithsonian Institution’s desire to repair the exterior envelope, remove the added floors, and restore the AIB back to its original layout. In addition, the entire building was to be upgraded to meet current code requirements for snow, wind, seismic, blast and progressive collapse.