in march 2019, the hirshhorn museum in washington D.C. announced that it was to undertake a redesign of its sculpture garden. the hirshhorn said that 45 years after its opening, the garden required critical infrastructure repairs, enhanced universal accessibility, and new galleries. since 1981, when the last re-design was undertaken, incremental changes have been made to plantings, paving, and the design program, including the closure of the east fountain. to realize the sculpture garden’s full potential, the institution tasked japanese artist and architect hiroshi sugimoto with revitalizing the entire space.


hiroshi sugimoto’s design, which can be seen in full here, seeks to re-establish the cohesiveness of the sculpture garden, the plaza, and the museum as a single, interconnected campus. this involves the creation of a new ‘front door’ on the national mall that welcomes visitors by widening sightlines into the sculpture garden and improving accessibility, shade, and seating. the project will also increase the hirshhorn’s display of its modern sculpture collection by almost 50%, while improving existing infrastructure and protecting the site’s natural vegetation. another important part of the scheme will see repairs made to the envelope of the building, which was designed by gordon bunshaft.


the museum, which is part of the smithsonian institution, has said that it will honor the garden’s layered design history — including both bunshaft’s original 1974 vision and the garden’s 1981 re-design under the direction of lester collins. however, preservationists are continuing to monitor and participate in the project’s review process for both the planned envelope repair and garden re-design. the new york times reports that both the cultural landscape foundation and docomomo US have both made statements on their respective websites. more information on the project can be found here.