National Arboretum Framework Plan

Facilities within the Arboretum’s Core can better reflect a dual mission of research and public service through strategic investments.
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The United States National Arboretum will redevelop its Core landscape, capitalizing on its cultural and ecological heritage in pursuit of a sustainable future to meet a rapidly growing constituency. In the context of a changing District, this project seeks greater expression for the National Arboretum’s mission of connecting people to plants in one of the city’s greatest open spaces.

Reed Hilderbrand’s framework plan recognizes the Arboretum’s distinguished legacy and preeminent reputation as the foundation of its identity and educational offerings. The proposed visitor experience of the Core is redirected, beginning as a sequence from a new entry at the Bladensberg Road, an urban thoroughfare. Visitors travel through site features that descend from its early history as a farm to its decades of development as a renowned scientific research facility focused on agriculture. A honed vehicular and pedestrian circulation system, supported by wayfinding, establishes clarity and hierarchy while reducing the amount of impervious pavement on the site. The new system brings visitors to expanded collections and visitor services at the Core, and to a myriad of new outlying destinations across the property’s uplands, midlands, and dendritic ravines. Strategic investment in the Core’s modernist compound provides opportunities to develop a visitor’s center where staff, volunteers, and visitors co-mingle to learn about plants, historic and new research findings, and stewardship practices in today’s world. 


Washington, D.C.




446 Acres



  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Friends of the National Arboretum