Engines of Freedom Master Plan Complete


Director Emeritus, Brent Glass, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History, and SOM Design Partner Brian Lee discuss the Master Plan. 

Participants in the master plan design charrette included representatives of the railroad industry, railroad historians, members of the board of directors, and team leaders from SOM and BRC Imagination Arts.

MARCH 2014

The Engines of Freedom master plan, second of the project’s three major design phases, featured a first-ever collaboration between some high-caliber design and museum operations talent.

BRC Imagination Arts (BRC), an Academy Award-nominated firm located in Burbank, California, served as designer of the visitor experience.  BRC created the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois; NASA’s Shuttle Launch Experience at Cape Canaveral, Florida; and hundreds of other museums and educational experiences around the globe.

Architectural design services were provided by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM).  An internationally-renowned firm headquartered in Chicago, SOM’s work includes the Willis Tower and Millennium Plaza in Chicago, as well as the new One World Trade Center in New York City.

Landscape architect design services for the surrounding grounds, park space, plaza, and parking areas were supplied by Tom Leader Studio of Berkeley, California.

Dr. Brent Glass, Director Emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution, joined the master plan team as Museum Planning Consultant.  Dr. Glass retired in 2011 as head of the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.  He brings over 35 years of experience in museum operations to the project.


“We were thrilled to have such a blue-ribbon team helping us advance the project,” Board Chairman Jay Matson said.   Noting that a project of this scale requires numerous design and fundraising stages to bring to fruition, Matson added that, “It’s terrific to have completed this major development phase, and I look forward to continued progress.”


With the master plan complete, the NRRHF launched the first stage of a national capital campaign.  Lead fundraising counsel is provided by Robert Alpaugh of Alpaugh + Associates, formerly of Chicago-based Campbell & Company. 


While the organization executes its fundraising plan, it will be in a quiet phase.  In campaigns of this nature, it is not unusual for the initial, leadership gift phase to take 18 to 24 months or more. 


Matson called the current campaign phase “…a critical, but exciting time for the project.” He expressed confidence that the organization will be able to secure the lead gifts needed to make this phase a success. 

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