Below-Grade Leak Sealing: The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture

Mar 11, 2024

The Challenge

Located on the National Mall in Washington DC, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture is the only museum dedicated to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture.  

Before construction on the museum’s building began, specific waterproofing precautions had to be taken, as the DC area is highly prone to below-grade water intrusion due to the large amount of water beneath the city — which has even been referred to as an underground river. In fact, prior to groundbreaking, the US Army Corps of Engineers spent over two years creating an underground wall outside the footprint of the property to hold back the water. However, when construction began in February 2012, the perimeter wall was unsuccessful, and water began pouring into the below-grade areas. 

The Solution

As the entire below-grade structure of the Museum was experiencing heavy water intrusion during construction, Superior Grouting & Restoration Services (SGS) was tasked with designing a solution to the failing waterproofing system. For over a year, SGS crews were on site daily to stop leaks from going into the building so the Museum could open.

SGS performed urethane grout injections to walls, floors, ceilings, joints, and conduits, as well as penetrations throughout the entirety of the below-grade portion of the museum. Ultimately, the project was a success, and the Museum officially opened in September 2016 as the 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution. 

Work Performed

Contact SGS for Your Specialty Grouting Needs

In addition to a comprehensive range of structural and soil grouting services, SGS specializes in concrete repair and restoration, concrete strengthening using Fiber Reinforced Plastic/Carbon Fiber (FRP) and other methods, and waterproofing for below-grade foundations.

With a reputation built on over half a century of experience, SGS is the right choice to ensure longevity and safety for your buildings or properties.

For more information or to discuss your project needs, contact SGS here.