The Hirshhorn Museum's new plan for renovating its sculpture garden is receiving criticism for undoing postwar landscape features. The plan by Japanese artist and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto aims to open up the site to the National Mall and create space for large-scale contemporary works and performances. The concept is made to raise visibility for the garden and welcome more visitors to the museum.
As the New York Times explores, the Hirshhorn's proposal is to redo its sunken sculpture garden by architect Gordon Bunshaft and landscape architect Lester Collins. Currently featuring works by Auguste Rodin, Jimmie Durham, and Yoko Ono, the sculpture garden has averaged nearly 1 million annual visitors the last three years. Sugimoto formerly redesigned the lobby of the Hirshhorn. His garden concept creates a ‘front door’ for the museum and reopens an underground passage that connects the garden to the museum plaza.
The Cultural Landscape Foundation placed the sculpture garden on its list of at-risk landscapes, noting that, "The sunken garden at the Hirshhorn, like many landscapes, has a carrying capacity for change. However, any revitalization effort that sacrifices the clarity of the unified and holistic design must be deemed a failure, no matter its artistic ambition or programmatic utility." Under the current plan, the pool would be replaced with a larger one made with a center stage, as well as a rebuilt concrete wall made with stacked stones. The Cultural Landscape Foundation has further explained these moves and their potential impact to the landscape.
News via New York Times