The Smithsonian Institution’s Arts and Industries Building (AIB) is designed to be bilaterally symmetrical, with repeated identical spaces – which can be potentially confusing, both to visitors and to those referring to individual areas of the museum. A large letter indicating the compass direction of each entrance at the center of each façade serves to orient visitors, and a specific nomenclature has been developed to describe each element of the building plan.
Towers and Pavilions
The four building entrances are through Towers at the center of each façade, referred to by their compass orientation. For example, the entrance at the Mall is through the North Tower. At the four corners of the buildings are three-story structures built to accommodate offices and laboratories. These structures are called Pavilions, and are also referred to by their compass orientation. The Pavilion closest to the Smithsonian Castle (and connected to it by an underground tunnel) is the Northwest Pavilion.
Rotunda and Halls
The Rotunda is the central and highest space; from it radiate the four exhibition Halls, identified by their orientation: the North Hall, the East Hall, the South Hall and the West Hall.
Ranges and Courts
Following the outer walls and extending from the Halls to the Pavilions are a series of eight Ranges, two on each side. The two Ranges on the Mall, or north, side of the building are called the East North Range and the West North Range. Those on the east side of the building are called the North East Range and the South East Range. This arrangement leaves four Courts, between the Halls and Ranges, which are referred to by their orientation: the Court closest to the Northwest Pavilion is the Northwest Court.