Smithsonian Must Choose Bird-Saving Design for Bezos Center, PETA Says

For Immediate Release:
September 19, 2022

Moira Colley 202-483-7382


Following the unveiling of five design proposals for the Bezos Learning Center at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, D.C., PETA just sent a letter to NASM Director Christopher Browne urging him to require the winning firm to employ a bird-friendly design and use nonreflective glass so as not to contribute to the loss of birds’ lives.

PETA notes that collisions with buildings kill up to a billion birds every year in the U.S. and that the reflective surfaces depicted in the design proposals would lead to a disturbing and insupportable uptick in deaths—especially because Washington is situated along a major migratory route that many species follow to travel south toward warmer climates.

“Reflective glass windows lead to deadly crashes, while animal-friendly design elements such as masking films, frits, and ultraviolet patterns can save untold numbers of birds’ lives,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “Given that many of the engineering marvels at the National Air and Space Museum were inspired by birds’ flight, it’s vital that the museum award a design that lets birds safely share the sky.”

In 2020, the Los Angeles Clippers made its new arena bird-friendly via the incorporation of a fritted finish—thin, ceramic lines on glass that are visible to birds but virtually transparent to humans—and PETA gave an award to Studio Gang architects for using similar techniques in their design of the Aqua Tower residential building and hotel in Chicago.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

The group’s letter to Browne follows.

Christopher Browne


National Air and Space Museum

Dear Mr. Browne:

I’m writing to you on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals U.S.—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally, including many in Washington, D.C., where we have an office—in response to news that you are taking public feedback on five aesthetic design concepts submitted by the potential firms bidding on the Bezos Learning Center. As collisions with glazed and mirrored buildings kill up to a billion birds every year in the U.S., we ask that you include an assessment of each building’s potential impact on bird-window collisions prior to making your selection and require that the winning firm incorporate bird-friendly glass into the design.

As you may know, birds cannot see clear and reflective glass and often careen into windows at high speeds. Their hollow bones make them well suited to flight but unlikely to survive such collisions. Migratory species are especially vulnerable, in part because they are attracted to and disoriented by large, lighted buildings during nocturnal migration. Washington, D.C., located along a major migratory route, is among the most dangerous cities for birds migrating in the fall.

To counter this devastating impact on birds, architects have developed innovative designs, including films, ceramic frits, and ultraviolet patterns, which can easily be added to glass windows. For example, in 2018 the Milwaukee Bucks opened the NBA’s first bird-friendly arena, using fritting—thin ceramic lines on glass that are visible to birds but virtually transparent to humans.

Would you please consider joining this trend to prevent unnecessary deaths? We would be happy to offer more suggestions and assistance. Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid Newkirk


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