The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden often draws architectural focus for its striking 1974 Gordon Bunshaft building. Now, the latter half of its official title, the Sculpture Garden, is set for a refresh in the coming years, according to a recently announced renovation plan.
Originally conceived as a repository for the massive sculpture collection of founding donor Joseph Hirshhorn, the Hirshhorn Museum now serves as the contemporary branch of the Smithsonian Institute in a building that Bunshaft once described as "a large piece of functional sculpture." But Bunshaft's designs for the Sculpture Garden saw several changes prior to its execution, ultimately resulting in a much smaller footprint than originally planned. The Sculpture Garden saw its first intervention at the hands of landscape architect Lester Collins in 1981.
Last year, the Hirshhorn celebrated the opening of a new lobby and café designed by artist and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto. Sugimoto returns as the designer of the updated Sculpture Garden, which also re-opens the underground passage between the Garden and the Museum beneath Jefferson Drive. The design aims to draw more visitors into the Hirshhorn from the National Mall, providing shaded viewing areas for the extensive sculpture collection as well as below-grade access to the Museum that makes use of a tunnel Bunshaft included in his original scheme to avoid a mid-block street crossing.