American Public Gardens Association
2019 Conference
Washington D.C. June 17-21, 2019

The Greenest Museum on the Mall: Planning the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Event Type: 
Date / Time: 
Friday, June 21, 2019 - 12:00pm to 5:00pm
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Guest Cost: 
Pre-Registration Required: 

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the nineteenth and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Join Smithsonian horticulturists, architects, and landscape architects for an interdisciplinary conversation and tour focusing on the history, design, construction, and operation of the Smithsonian’s “greenest” museum. Classic architecture successfully integrates form and function, allowing the building to both symbolize and tangibly represent the core values and purpose of its inhabitants. Lead designer David Adjaye and lead architect Philip Freelon, together with their architectural team Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup, produced the winning design. The group, joined later by the landscape architecture firm Gustafson, Guthrie, Nichols, successfully integrated the stringent planning and security demands of the National Mall siting with meaningful cultural symbolism, and progressive sustainability standards to create the first museum on the mall to achieve LEED GOLD Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for new construction.

On this tour, we will discuss the historical context for choosing a site on the National Mall and explore the cultural significance of the site selection, landscape design, and architecture. Participants will gain a broad understanding of the unique obstacles and opportunities involved in the construction of the museum including its state-of-the-art irrigation system, water capture and recycling infrastructure, extensive and intensive green roofs, and engineered soil. Smithsonian Gardens’ staff will conclude the tour with an interpretive walk around the landscape focused on a reflection of the past two years and the specific challenges and hurdles inherent in establishing and maintaining a new landscape on the National Mall.

Lunch will be provided.

Please Note: You will need to pass through a security check-point, so please leave your garden pruners and grafting knives at home. Please dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes as we will be outdoors for a portion of this tour.

IMPORTANT: This tour has a very limited capacity and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis only. This tour will eventually end up at Brookside Gardens. It will not be returning to the conference hotel.

Departure: Tours depart outside the Blue Room Prefunction on the East side of the conference hotel. Please arrive no earlier than 15 minutes prior to departure time.

Additionally, the Association will not be able to accommodate participants driving their own vehicles to/from offsite locations. All attendees must board the bus at the hotel and return with the group at the scheduled times.


(Photo Credit: Douglas Remley)