Hirshhorn to Revitalize Sculpture Garden for 21st Century

Jeanine Quaglia, LEED AP
Jeanine Quaglia
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Hirshhorn to Revitalize Sculpture Garden for 21st Century
New Concept in Development by Architect/Artist Hiroshi Sugimoto Showcases the Modern Collection and Creates Dynamic Space for New Performance Art and Sculpture
A rendering of the revitalized Sculpture Garden.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden announced March 11 that its board of trustees unanimously voted in favor of moving forward with a renovation and redesign of its Sculpture Garden for the first time since the 1980s. Over the past two years, the museum has been working to reimagine the space to improve the visitor experience and to provide a greater variety of programming. 
Following a successful renovation of the museum’s lobby by architect/artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, which has welcomed nearly a million visitors since its opening, the museum began working with Sugimoto to develop a concept design for the garden. Adjacent to the National Mall, the sunken garden is barely visible to both Mall and museum visitors. Sugimoto’s early concept calls for an enhanced entrance facing the National Mall, directly engaging the more than 35 million people who pass through each year. The new vision will create spaces for large-scale contemporary works and performances, as well as intimate spaces for the museum’s modern masterpieces. Initial concept designs also include reopening the underground passage, which has been closed for 30 years, but was an important element in architect Gordon Bunshaft’s original design, connecting the garden to the museum plaza. 
“This project creates a ‘front door’ for the Hirshhorn on the National Mall,” said Dan Sallick, Hirshhorn board chair. “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.” 
“As both an artist and an architect, Hiroshi Sugimoto brings a unique perspective to his designs and a deep understanding and respect for Gordon Bunshaft’s original vision for the garden,” said Melissa Chiu, director of the Hirshhorn. 
“We are working to create a more vibrant and accessible civic space for residents of our city and the many visitors from the nation and throughout the world,” said Adam Metz, chair of the board’s building task force. 
Sugimoto leads his design team of New Material Research Laboratory Co. Ltd. in Tokyo, in association with Yun Architecture in Brooklyn, New York; Quinn Evans in Washington, D.C., architect of record; and Rhodeside & Harwell Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia, landscape architect. 
The Hirshhorn will share its progress to-date on the concept design for the garden at a public consultation meeting at the museum at a date to be announced. Submissions to the National Capital Planning Commission and Commission of Fine Arts will follow.

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