This historic building first opened in 1897 as the expanded home for the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Designed by noted American architect Ernest Flagg in the Beaux-Arts style, the building’s design includes a separate entrance on New York Avenue for students entering the newly established Corcoran School of Art, which was housed in the basement. The Gallery, then one of the few major collections in Washington, D.C., grew significantly in 1926 with the acquisition of Senator W.A. Clark’s collection of European and American art, and a large new wing was added to the rear of the building.
Completed in 1928, the Clark Wing, as it's known today, expanded the Corcoran’s display and storage space dramatically while also adding key building features such as the Salon Doré and Rotunda. The entire building was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1992, with many interior spaces receiving historic preservation status in 2015.
After the Corcoran joined the George Washington University in 2014, an assessment of deferred maintenance and needed upgrades placed the total estimated cost of renovations at $80 million. Priority was given to fire egress, ADA access, site utilities, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing upgrades.
Now known informally as the “Flagg Building"—so as to be inclusive of a broader Corcoran School that includes studio arts, art history, dance, design, theatre, music and museum studies programs across the Foggy Bottom campus—this celebrated building is undergoing a multiyear, phased renovation project. The building remains open as an academic building during renovations.
Phase I Renovations are on track for completion in 2018. With $47.5 million invested in critical infrastructure upgrades and improvements, plumbing, electrical, air handling, fire alarm and control systems have all been upgraded. A multistory, open-air platform is being added to the central courtyard area, housing new mechanical equipment including multiple air handing units and an emergency generator. New ramps, entrances, and doorways have also been installed, making the building ADA accessible for the first time in its history.
In addition, former gallery storage spaces, display galleries, and museum offices have been converted to teaching spaces. Phase I has brought changes and improvements to ceramics, sculpture, photography, printmaking and painting/drawing studios. At the end of Phase I, classes will be taught on every floor of the Flagg Building. At the same time, the National Gallery of Art will be invited to program nine of the 20 galleries on the second floor. Future phases call for continued improvements to the building’s façade and infrastructure, as well as ongoing transformation of former gallery and storage spaces into innovative classrooms for a remarkable art and design school.