CFA 17/SEP/20-4


3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC
United States

U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. National Arboretum
Renovation of and additions to the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum and Garden
Review Type


Dear Dr. Olsen:

In its public meeting of 17 September conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for the renovation of and additions to the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum and Garden, part of the U.S. National Arboretum located at 3501 New York Avenue, NE. The Commission approved the concept and provided the following comments for the development of the design. 

Noting the deteriorating condition of the museum complex, the Commission members expressed strong support for its proposed renovation, commending the collaborative effort that has resulted in a clear and coherent spatial sequence for these gardens, courtyards, and pavilions. Recognizing the challenge of the proposed minimalist design approach, they observed that its success will depend on the careful detailing of its components. They expressed support for the proposed materials palette, commenting that the selection of materials must consider the creation of microclimatic conditions favorable for the particular needs of bonsai and penjing specimens. Finally, they expressed appreciation for the proposal to juxtapose these small plants with views of full-size trees in the arboretum, recommending that such visual relationships should be created wherever possible, particularly in the North American collection.

The Commission looks forward to seeing the further development of this design and its details. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Dr. Richard T. Olsen, Director
U.S. National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002

cc: Doug Reed, Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture