National Audio-Visual Conservation Center

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National Audio-Visual Conservation Center
National Audio-Visual Conservation Center

Every film, video, broadcast, and recorded sound from the country’s most expansive collections is now consolidated below ground, near the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. The underground Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Emergency Preparedness Center structure had been abandoned in the late 1960's. Architects at SmithGroup recall the space prior to restoration as a twilight zone, full of eerily empty vaults that had once held billions of dollars in cash.


Library of Congress


Culpepper, Virginia


Architecture, Archives & Collections Care, Cultural, Interiors, Programming, Sustainable Design


415,000 SF

Featured Awards

Green Innovation Award—Best Green Commercial Project, Virginia Sustainable Building Network, 2008

Overall Project of the Year, Mid-Atlantic Construction, 2007

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Institutional Project of the Year, Mid-Atlantic Construction, 2007

Award of Excellence, Institutional Facility over $20 Million, NAIOP Northern Virginia Chapter, 2007

Nestled beneath the rolling terrain of the Blue Ridge foothills, the country’s heritage as captured by film and audio files sits safe within the new National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. Offering the public an unrivaled look at history, the facility will engage and inspire the country and its creatives for years to come.

National Audio Visual Conservation Center SmithGroup

Our team created, had tested and installed a damper system that would maintain the individual vault fire rating yet enabled return air through the ductwork drastically reducing energy consumption. This creative solution has become an accepted alternate in NFPA 40 for the construction of future nitrate storage vaults.

Through our team’s design, these coffers would now be converted into archival and storage vaults that would be designed to preserve America’s most coveted and important pieces of film and audio history. 

National Audio Visual Conservation SmithGroup

The building is primarily underground, and covered by 228,000 SF of natural green space, making this project’s roof the largest green roof of any facility around. 

SmithGroup expanded our vision and provided solutions that we would otherwise never have contemplated. I can think of no other architectural firm in the nation that is as accomplished and knowledgeable in building an archive and library for the 21st century. They have my highest recommendation.

Greg Lukow
Chief, Library of Congress Packard Campus