Smith Island Cultural Center & Museum
In the simplest of terms, Smith Island life can be summarized as man and nature – social adaptation to the influences of the bay. Smith Island is Maryland’s only inhabited island within the Chesapeake Bay, and is accessible only by boat. Life centers primarily around the crab and oyster harvesting seasons, yet, islanders now recognize the tourist industry as being critical for their unique culture’s long-term survival.
The Smith Island Center was commissioned for both the tourist industry as an exploratory center to island life during the summer months, and as a social hall for the islanders at all times. The visitors center sits adjacent to marsh and roads, providing the opportunity to design a building that is responsive to the social interaction of people otherwise isolated from the mainland and respective to the wetlands and other wildlife. The building’s low-pitched single-story roof is reminiscent of the island’s architecture, as are the materials. The clerestory windows, which allow natural light into the center of the social hall, are patterned as the last in a numerous series of channel markers guiding the islands watermen in from the bay.
The Smith Island Visitor Center was an award recipient from the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the AIA.