Landscape Architecture

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Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN) was selected to oversee the museum’s landscape architecture. GGN’s design features wide, curving paths that guide visitors toward the building. The juxtaposition of highly polished black granite stone with moving and still water creates transition points at each entrance, symbolizing the historic crossings and passages within the African American experience. Extending the water imagery onto the greenery surrounding the museum, GGN also oversaw planting more than 400,000 bluish-colored crocuses that will bloom annually during February’s Black History Month. They chose to plant live oak, magnolia, and American beech trees to reinforce the broad themes of the museum; resiliency, spirituality, hope, and optimism. Among other landscape features, GGN designed the Hope and Optimism Reading Grove, which has seating areas that resemble two hands clasping each other.