A key element of architect Adolf Cluss’s vision for the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building (AIB) was the incorporation of plentiful natural lighting, emulating the style of the exposition buildings that were popular in the mid-to-late 19th century. Cluss and his fellow architects designed the building to receive a large amount of natural light via wood windows, clerestory windows, and roof monitors.
The current window design is very similar to the original configuration, with only minor differences. The Rotunda features 16 large, semicircular arched, triple windows, with an additional 16 circular fixed metal windows at its cupola. These were the only metal windows in the original design, as the original intent was to have “non-conductive” windows.
The museum’s four exhibit halls each contain a long monitor window, as well as triple clerestory wood windows on their side walls; there are tall, triple-arched windows adorned with colored glass at the hall ends.
Courts, Ranges and Other Sections
The courts contain several groups of three arched windows, similar to the ones along each of the sides of the halls. The courts also contain large roof skylights, built in 1899 to accommodate for the light that was blocked after the addition of court galleries by fellow Washington, D.C. architects Hornblower and Marshall. Large, triple windows, similar to the windows at the Rotunda, allow light into each of the ranges and annexes; the offices in the pavilions and towers feature a variety of wood windows. The basement spaces feature small, wood casement windows, all of which were replaced in the 1980s.