Rendering of the proposed Hirshhorn bubble; image by Diller Scofidio Renfro

Ada Louise Huxtable called it “born-dead, neo-penitentiary modern,” so it’s hard to believe that anyone would try to make the Hirshhorn Museum even uglier, but give Richard Koshalek credit for trying.

The Hirshhorn, the Smithsonian’s museum of modern art on the National Mall in Washington, was designed by Gordon Bunshaft to house the collection of the rags-to-riches stock market and mining magnate Joseph Hirshhorn. It opened in 1974 to much controversy over its design and the naming of a national museum after a living donor, a practice that the Smithsonian now regularly embrace ...