IBEW Museum

2007 | Washington, DC

  • IBEW Museum History Wall Photo: Elizabeth Felicella
  • IBEW Museum Detail of ‘Multi-Media’ Wall in the Museum Photo: Elizabeth Felicella
  • IBEW Museum Audio Visual Recording Booth Photo: Elizabeth Felicella

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) hired STUDIOS to assist with their new, Washington, D.C. headquarters. It serves as the organization’s public face to the federal government and the general community, and houses workers, pension funds, and two affiliated law firms. Every detail of the building is a product of the loyalty and pride of the union’s workers: membership was tapped for the actual construction, and the materials and furnishings were created by union labor where possible.

STUDIOS’ design concept incorporated the addition of two grand staircases, an elevator, and a separate street-level entrance. Spread over seven floors, the IBEW program included executive offices, suites, and a board room, as well as an auditorium, archival storage space, a historical museum, and a rooftop terrace featuring solar glass technology integrated into the architecture-a technique used for the first time in Washington, D.C.

Anchoring the far end of the lower level event space, the IBEW museum honors its workers and offers a wealth of historical items and information. Life-sized figures throughout the space perform the daily tasks of electrical workers and convey a sense of the heights to which they climb and the dangers they face. The museum educates visitors about its membership, its governance and election process, and the tools of its trade.

The museum is an ongoing, kinetic project that gathers the oral and written traditions of the union and archives this valuable memorabilia for the future. Within the museum space, an audio-visual booth allows members to record their memories and impressions of the union, while on the exterior monitor visitors to the museum can browse and experience these memoirs. Both the museum and the building’s archival storage are of the highest preservation quality, with environmental control systems designed to withstand all threats to the information housed within, including hermetically sealed storage systems, humidification and positive pressure, FM 200 fire suppression systems, and archival quality materials.