hirshhorn museum wins approval for hiroshi sugimoto’s sculpture garden revitalization

hirshhorn museum wins approval for hiroshi sugimoto’s sculpture garden revitalization

hirshhorn’s revitalization project of the sculpture garden is approved


a major milestone is bound to be established for the renowned, smithsonian hirshhorn museum in washington D.C. following an online meeting on march 10, 2021 where information on the proposed revitalization was unveiled, hiroshi sugimoto’s revitalization design of the sculpture garden is approved. the architect’s project elevates the visitor’s experience, blending original elements from 1974 together with contemporary additions. through defining changes from revising pedestrian paths to atmospheric water pool features, a cohesive and interconnected hirshhorn campus makes its stance.


‘sugimoto’s vision is very much aligned with the garden’s original influences but takes a view toward the future. our next chapter is one that is more inclusive and accessible and elevates the experiences and voices of today,’ says hirshhorn director melissa chiu.

hirshhorn museum wins approval for hiroshi sugimoto’s sculpture garden revitalization
(above) rendering view of the east garden

(banner) southward view from the allée of the central gallery
all images courtesy of hirshhorn museum and sculpture garden



japanese architect hiroshi sugimoto enhances the experience of millions of visitors


following unanimous approvals by the national capital planning commission (NCPC) and the commission of fine arts (CFA) for hiroshi sugimoto’s design proposal, the hirshhorn sculpture garden revitalization moved one step closer on july 15th when the CFA approved his final design. then, the project’s mission to unify the sculpture garden, plaza and museum will begin its new journey. as the space becomes enhanced, the design manages to increase the accommodation of the museum’s modernist bronzes by almost 50%.



‘we welcome these approvals, which have followed a robust public process that allowed us to hear and incorporate the views of so many who care deeply about the garden. the final design by hiroshi sugimoto, the renowned japanese artist and architect, will enhance the experience of millions of hirshhorn visitors in coming years,’ continues melissa chiu.

hirshhorn museum wins approval for hiroshi sugimoto’s sculpture garden revitalization
hirshhorn sculpture garden allée with lowered concrete retaining wall



walking platforms provide flexible spaces for sculpture and performance art


maintaining the garden’s layered design history is one of the project’s main goals. in the central garden, sugimoto expands the water feature into a flexible performance space. bunshaft’s 1974 reflecting pool will remain filled year round, heated when necessary. an expanded water feature separated by a five-foot walkway is fitted with terraced steps surrounds an art platform, providing a flexible space for sculpture and performance art. visual connection is restored with various seating arrangements all around.


meanwhile, the design revisits the existing inner partition wall transforming it into a lower, pylon-shaped stacked stone structure. inspired by japanese dry-stacking techniques, the modernist re-construction provides a distinctive optical and acoustic backdrop during performances. overall, the garden dynamic shifts to a harmonious entity of curatorial options, functions and views.

hirshhorn museum wins approval for hiroshi sugimoto’s sculpture garden revitalization
rendering of the west garden at night with large scale commission



sugimoto’s design accomplishes two important goals: making the sculpture garden more accessible and inviting to the 30 million people who pass it on the national mall each year and offering flexible venues for the kinds of large-scale sculpture and time-based and performance works that are the hallmarks of contemporary art today. the organic proposal sensitively responds to art as site specific installations, various sized sculptures, as well as dynamic galleries can all be adapted and appreciated all through the year. moreover, as accessibility via infrastructure is also being improved, visitor comfort is achieved whether through clear visibility views, optimal acoustics, or seating in the shade.



‘it is an honor to be entrusted with revitalizing and renewing the hirshhorn sculpture garden. my design acknowledges the contributions of gordon bunshaft, the hirshhorn’s original architect, and lester collins, who reconsidered the garden in 1981. my challenge is to anticipate how art will be created, displayed, and shared in a public environment. as an artist, I am thrilled the proposal has passed and am looking forward to bringing it to life,’ says the architect himself, hiroshi sugimoto.



arial view for a wider welcome on the national mall

suscribe on designboom
- see sample
- see sample
suscribe on designboom
happening now! discover how the free app, bloomberg connects, makes any gallery experience more interactive and engaging with exclusive content, not only for those visiting in person, but to anyone around the world! 


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

designboom will always be there for you

milan, new york, beijing, tokyo,  since 1999