A year after the Japanese artist and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto completed his renovation of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden lobby in Washington, D.C., the museum has approved a sweeping redevelopment of the sculpture garden. A unanimous vote by the museum’s board of trustees this morning to advance the renovation was the culmination of two years of design studies on how the space could be better utilized.
Sugimoto and his design team, the Tokyo-based New Material Research Laboratory Co., Ltd, and Brooklyn’s Yun Architecture have proposed further opening up the Gordon Bunshaft–designed garden to the National Mall.
The sunken sculpture garden is currently difficult to see from the outside and receives little shade. Bunshaft had originally designed a larger, sprawling garden that followed the width of the Mall and featured a larger reflecting pool, but his ambitious design was cut down. The garden was originally opened in 1974 and was last updated following a 1981 renovation courtesy landscape architect Lester Collins.
In the revised scheme for the garden, Sugimoto has proposed replacing the garden’s central patch of lawn with a reflecting pool. New trees, the aforementioned Mall entrance, and a reopening of the underground passage to the Hirshhorn’s plaza (part of Bunshaft’s original design) have also been included.
“This project creates a ‘front door’ for the Hirshhorn on the National Mall,” said Hirshhorn board chair Dan Sallick. “I can think of no better way to expand our mission than by creating a 21st-century outdoor space for sculpture and performance that will become a beacon for many more visitors.”
The Washington, D.C.–based Quinn Evans Architects will serve as the executive architect, and Rhodeside & Harwell Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia, will act as landscape architects. A public consultation meeting, where the museum will further update the public on the project’s finer details, will be scheduled for some time in the near future. After that, the garden renovation must pass muster with the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission on Fine Arts.
No timetable or budget for the garden’s overhaul have been made public yet.