CFA 16/JUL/15-2


3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC
United States

U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. National Arboretum
National China Garden, new classical Chinese garden
Review Type


Dear Dr. Olsen:

In its meeting of 16 July, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept proposal for the National China Garden at the U.S. National Arboretum at 3501 New York Avenue, NE. The Commission approved the concept design with the following comments and requested a revised concept submission with additional documentation.

The Commission members welcomed this opportunity to bring an ambitious example of China's ancient tradition of garden culture to the United States, and they emphasized that the garden will provide great interpretive value to the arboretum's Asian collections. However, they commented that this design—an adaptation of several garden archetypes ranging from extensive lakeside landscapes to small enclosed gardens—will require careful attention to the scale of paths and other elements to ensure comfortable movement through these spaces. They commented that the desired floating character of the buildings may be diminished by the inclusion of heavy ramps for accessibility, and they encouraged study of contemporary Chinese examples of barrier-free garden access. Noting that the submission lacked sufficient and consistent documentation, the Commission approved the concept subject to the provision of additional plans at an intermediate scale for each precinct that include further information on the specifics of scale, topographic alterations, buildings, materials, and interpretation.

The Commission looks forward to review of a more developed design for this important addition to the gardens and landscapes of the national capital. As always, the staff is available to assist you in the preparation of the next submission.


Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

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

cc: Sandra L. Gibson, National China Garden Foundation
Thomas C. McCarthy, Page
Faye Harwell, Rhodeside & Harwell