The New York Times reports:
The museum has had something of a bumpy road. Mr. Stern was first selected to design a building for it in 2002, when it was to be in Valley Forge, Pa., where Washington’s soldiers endured the winter of 1777-78. Carved into a hillside in the Valley Forge National Historical Park, the building would have had views of the historic encampment, 22 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
But a dispute with the National Park Service over the terms by which the museum could occupy park land led to a change of plans, and the center bought a 78-acre parcel of privately owned land that was nearly surrounded by the historical park, intending to build Mr. Stern’s design there. Then critics, including the National Parks Conservation Association, an independent advocacy group, argued that any development would diminish the site’s history. In September 2010, after more than a year of negotiations, the center reached an agreement with the Park Service to move the museum to its current location, the site of a former visitors’ center in Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. In exchange the center turned over its 78 acres at Valley Forge to the Park Service.
Now Mr. Stern has produced a new design intended to fit into Philadelphia’s historic district. The museum will face the First Bank of the United States, completed in 1795, and sit near William Strickland’s Merchants’ Exchange Building from 1834 and the United States Custom House from a century later. Anchoring the eastern end of Independence National Historical Park, the brick building will announce itself with a tower that will be topped by a cylindrical cupola with a bell-shaped roof. A wall running along South Third Street will have brick cornerstones and recessed arches accented with stone.