The Hirshhorn museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution, announced a redesign of its sculpture garden in 2019, noting that the garden needed infrastructure repairs, better accessibility and refreshed galleries. Japanese artist and architect Horishi Sugimoto was enlisted to revitalize the space.
The proposed redesign, including space for increasing the modern and contemporary sculpture collection, has brought criticism from preservationists who argue that the site's modernist design will be jeopardized. Gordon Bunshaft was behind the sunken garden's original 1974 vision and a 1981 re-design came under postwar landscape architect Lester Collins.
Preservationists have been vocal about the importance of retaining the garden's elements — for one, the D.C. State Historic Preservation Office objects to changes to “the critically important historic reflecting pool.” The Cultural Landscape Foundation, an advocacy group, has placed the site on its list of at-risk landscapes.