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Periodical Volume 3 Issue 1 Hirshhorn Construction Begins

Construction Begins on the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden Revitalization

By Carly Bond

In November 2021, Section 106 consultation concluded on the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden Revitalization. The Sculpture Garden was designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1974. It was altered in 1981 by landscape architect Lester Collins and the Smithsonian Office of Horticulture to provide accessibility, add plantings to the formerly stark setting, and to create outdoor rooms for improved exhibition of sculptures. 

The Sculpture Garden Revitalization’s modification, per the design of the artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, will replace failed concrete perimeter walls and infrastructure; provide stormwater management; and improve accessibility and visitor use. This project maintains some aspects of the Garden’s historic character and introduces significant changes. New walls constructed within the enclosing aggregate concrete perimeter walls facilitate an increase in the display of the Hirshhorn’s modern sculpture collection. Other changes support outdoor galleries for the presentation of performance art, large-format sculpture, and site-specific installations.   

Construction of the Sculpture Garden Revitalization was awarded to Grunley Construction and began in November 2023. Once completed in 2026, this Revitalization will re-establish the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden as a single interconnected campus for the first time since 1993. The historic underground passage that connected the Sculpture Garden to the Museum Plaza will re-open, featuring conserved historic fabric and a site-specific art installation by Sugimoto. 

You can learn more about this project’s complex Section 106 consultation by visiting the archived public consultation webpage. An interactive walking tour of the Sculpture Garden was created using images captured in 2022 providing a permanent record of this historic landscape. Both resources are available through the SI’s Architectural History and Historic Preservation webpage.  

Rendered image of the garden with sculptures and visitors.
Figure 1. Rendered View of the Sculpture Garden.  Rendering courtesy of Hiroshi Sugimoto. 


Preservation Periodical: Volume 3 Issue 2

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