National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION

East Building Architectural Tour

East Building, west facade


Looking from the Mall toward the front of the East Building, massive towers with connecting bridges mark the exhibition spaces. At the entrance, Knife Edge Mirror Two Piece, a colossal abstract bronze by Henry Moore, announces the modern art within.

The dramatic geometry of architect I. M. Pei's great "H"-shaped façade matches the equally severe walls of the West Building, which is situated across the plaza seen in the photograph above. To correspond in texture and color to the original building, the new one is faced inside and out with lavender-pink marble from the same quarry in Tennessee.

The older West Building (opened 1941) is based on foursquare, right-angled forms, while the newer structure interlocks complex, shifting triangular shapes. To emphasize these sharp angles, lighter stone was chosen for all the East Building's vertical corners. The 19-degree fin at the west corner of the library and office area, seen at the right in the photograph above, rises 107 feet above ground to the roofline.

Audio: I. M. Pei and Earl A. Powell III
Axis of the Building
Sculpture in the East Building
Joining of the East and West Buildings

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