Architect James Renwick Jr. designed the Smithsonian Institution Building. Designed in Norman style, constructed of red sandstone and nicknamed "The Castle," the building opened along the National Mall in 1855.
From its opening until the 1881 construction of the U.S. National Museum adjacent to the Smithsonian, the building housed all aspects of Smithsonian operations, including research and administrative offices, lecture and exhibit halls, and a library and reading room. Prior to 1881, the building also served as the living quarters for the secretary of the Smithsonian, his family, and visiting scientists. In 1977, the recently restored and remodeled version of the building received Historic Landmark status.