Dumbarton Oaks Greenhouses

Washington, D.C.

Selldorf Architects has been selected by Dumbarton Oaks to design a major upgrade to their storied campus in two phases: the construction of a state-of-the-art greenhouse to support critical plant care and propagation for the historic garden designed by Beatrix Farrand, followed by the renovation of the historic greenhouse designed by Farrand and McKim, Mead, & White in 1925 into a new education space. Working with Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architects, the project will extend and enhance the legacy of a treasured resource in the Georgetown neighborhood that exemplifies the interdependent relationship of landscape, architecture, and art.

The new greenhouse will bolster operations that are fundamental to the stewardship of the historic gardens. Solar panels, improved irrigation, and state-of-the-art climate control will reduce the ecological footprint of the campus while increasing its capacity for plant care and propagation. The design will contribute a new chapter to the architectural legacy at Dumbarton Oaks which includes buildings by McKim, Mead, & White, Phillip Johnson, and Venturi Scott Brown.

The renovation of the historic greenhouse will provide, for the first time, dedicated space for K-12 learning activities inspired by Dumbarton Oak’s collections and gardens. A studio dedicated to a new artist in residence program will help Dumbarton Oaks grow its support for artists whose work draws from the surrounding history and gardens. And a new Digitial Humanties Lab space will enhance access to their Library collection. The landscape and courtyards surrounding both buildings will be designed to bring together staff, scholars, and the public for a more open and collaborative dialogue.