Page Updated April 7, 2017

News of underground buildings that are being contemplated or constructed are added to this page as information becomes available.

If you are aware of new examples that are being considered, designed, or built, please let us know.

University of Arizona architecture students Amanda Schwarz and Ryan Baxter designed an earth-integrated museum and veterans' center honoring the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II. "At times, a building will burrow into the ground like a rabbit and at other times it soars like a bird." The design was selected for the AIA's 2016 Emerging Professionals Exhibit.

In mid-July 2016, New York City officials approved plans to build Lowline, the world's first underground park in an abandoned trolley tunnel near the base of the Williamsburg Bridge. Organizers will have 12 months to raise $10 million, conduct community outreach, finalize the design, and submit detailed plans for further approval.


Zoning was approved for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago. The design includes nearly 200,000 square feet of new green space by covering portions of the 300,000 square-foot building, which is designed to "merge into the land."

A chapel excavated from natural granite in Raleigh, North Carolina, was designed by Vilalta Arquitectura. When completed in 2018, the 250-seat chapel will have a natural, non-built character. The entrance, 50 feet below ground level, will be accessed by a ramp that encircles the chapel.

Roger Ferris is designing a 25,000-square-foot underground addition to the Watermill Center in Long Island, New York. It will house a library, gallery, and performance area.

The Smithsonian Institution announced plans to expand its two underground museums near the National Mall in Washington, DC. The renovation will include redesigning the garden above the museums and creating new entrances to them. Construction is likely to begin around 2020.

Frank Ghery revealed a model of his design for expanding the Philadelphia Museum of Art underneath the famous "Rocky steps." See photos and an interview.

The Weiss-Manfredi design has been accepted for reconfiguring the Sylvan Theater near the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The start of construction is contingent on fundraising and public input. The design was awarded the 2015 Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Award.

At least six underground cottages are planned to accomodate visitors and scholars near Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. They will be immersed in a meadow above the Frank Lloyd Wright classic.

The Arts Coalition for Dupont Underground will open the first portion of its new arts, retail, and community space development in April 2016 in the vacant, underground trolley station at Dupont Circle in Washington DC.

Under Construction

Princeton University is renovating Firestone Library, which is the campus's largest building. Much of the building is underground. Renovations in include asbestos removal, lighting improvements, and computer and electrical upgrades. The building will remain in use during the renovation process, which is expected to be finished in 2018.

Recently Completed

A three-year renovation of the National Gallery of Art's East Building was completed in September 2016. It included adding a special exhibition gallery in the underground concourse.

The Chicago Cubs' two-level clubhouse under a new plaza near Wrigley Field was finished in April 2016.


NEW The University of Oregon's Allan Price Science Commons & Research Library Remodel/Expansion, which was completed in October 2016, received a 2017 Library Building Award from AIA and the American Library Association.

On January 13, 2017, AIA awarded an Institute Honor Award for Regional & Urban Design to the new, underground Cleveland Convention Center.

In October 2016, AIA announced that Epic Systems Corporation's Deep Space auditorium received Honorable Mention in the TAP/CCA Innovation Awards. The 1.2-million-square-foot underground auditorium can seat 11,400 people.

Unless otherwise attributed, all content is © Loretta Hall, 2000-2017.
Bookmark and Share

Why not here?

In this new feature, I'll show an innovative earth-integrated building in another country and ask why we arent' doing things like this in the United States.

The underground National Museum in Szczecin, Poland, was named World Building of the Year for 2016 at the World Architecture Festival.

Why not here?

Don't miss these updates! Sign up (at the left) for notifications when content on this page is changed.
Be notified of
page updates
it's private
powered by