U.S. National Arboretum

Dear Dr. Elias:

The members were pleased to meet you and your staff on the morning of 20 May for our site inspection to the National Arboretum. As you know, the Commission has had a long-standing interest in the Arboretum and, in fact, was very supportive of its establishment in 1927. The members greatly appreciate the contributions to the Arboretum has made to the study of horticulture and to the enhancement of our nation's environment. In that light, we hope that the future physical changes to the Arboretum's facilities will be done at the same level of excellence. As the Arboretum moves forward with its development plans, we encourage you to engage the best available design talent to undertake these projects with your engineers. Not to do so would be a missed opportunity for the Arboretum-an opportunity that, if taken, could design and create world-class facilities that match the quality of your research programs. Professionals also should be consulted early in your project development process. The need can be clearly demonstrated in the plans to renovate the Administration Building. The aid of an historic preservation architect, versed in mid-twentieth century construction, will greatly help in the effort to preserve the building's important architectural features. It is unfortunate that the current plans for this building were developed without sensitivity to the building's original design intentions-we hope that the plans will be modified. In addition, we cannot stress strongly enough the need for a qualified architect and landscape architect to be added to your staff to oversee the execution of these and other future projects.

During our tour, the members were dismayed at the prospect of losing the major oak tree that is adjacent to the site of the new entrance on Bladensburg Road. We recommend that every effort be taken to preserve this tree. The plans for the entrance should be modified so that a retaining wall can be constructed to preserve the tree's root line. How appropriate it would be to have this tree standing, like a sentinel, next to the entrance, as a natural signal to announce the Arboretum's new entrance.

Another item of concern was the design for the expansion of Flowering Tree Walk. This is another project that would greatly benefit from the design services offered by a landscape architect. The walk should be something more than a path leading from one exhibit to another. The current plan should be reconsidered so that the visitor's experience is fully maximized and the Arboretum's grounds beautifully enhanced.

Walking through the existing greenhouse during our site inspection clearly demonstrated the need for a new replacement facility. For this project, the members all agreed that you should proceed with the current plans and approved the submission as presented in April. As for the previously mentioned projects-the renovation of the Administration Building, the new Bladensburg Road entrance, and the Flowering Tree Walk-the Commission looks forward to working with the Arboretum as these plans are further developed or modified. As soon as they are ready, please submit them for review.


/s/ Frederick J. Linstrom
Acting Secretary

Dr. Thomas S. Elias
U.S. National Arboretum
United States Departments of Agriculture
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002-1958

cc: Judy Morrison, USDA
Scott Aker, USNA