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September 20, 2016

GGN designed landscape for new African American museum in D.C.

Photo by Andrew Moore [enlarge]

The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens on Saturday — the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history and culture.

The architectural team is Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroupJJR, and Ralph Appelbaum Associates is the exhibit designer.

Seattle-based Gustafson Guthrie Nichol is the landscape architect. The firm did the site master plan and oversaw landscape construction.

GGN said the landscape is designed to integrate the museum into the National Mall and Washington Monument grounds, and make the site an integral component of the museum experience.

Broad sweeping paths draw in visitors, moving them through two important thresholds that are marked by a curving plinth of highly polished stone and an entry fountain with both moving and still water.

GGN Founding Principal Kathryn Gustafson said, “From a landscape design perspective, what makes this museum unique is that it holds a position of both terminus and junction. It is the last museum on the National Mall, and it is also where the National Mall, Washington Monument, and White House grounds meet.”

Live oaks, magnolias and American beeches are part of the landscape design.

The site is designed to encourage visitors to linger outside, and reflect on the stories and exhibits inside.

GGN's other significant projects include CityCenterDC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus.

The new museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts. It is the Smithsonian Institution's 19th and newest museum.

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