GWWO has enjoyed a more than decade long relationship with the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. The firm was first selected to provide master planning and programming for the Estate, which then resulted in implementation of three projects.
Most recently, GWWO completed designs for two new visitor facilities within George Washington’s historic estate. The new 30,200-SF Ford Orientation Center welcomes visitors to the historic estate, and features ticketing, information services, a small retail operation, visitor comfort facilities, and two theatres with total seating for 450, as well as orientation and education exhibits, including “Mount Vernon in Miniature,” a working model of the mansion. The theatres present a 15-minute introductory film about the life of George Washington that prepares visitors to explore his home and the estate’s grounds.
The new 41,000-SF Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center features multi-media and interactive exhibit galleries, multiple theater experiences, classrooms and distance learning facilities focused on providing innovative learning opportunities for school children, families and researchers. In a separate section, more traditional museum galleries showcase objects relating to the life and times of George Washington.
Both new buildings were designed with utmost sensitivity to the historic landscape. By tucking 65 percent of the large complex under the four-acre pasture just inside Mount Vernon’s main gate, the design ensures that the new buildings have a quiet presence on the estate. Views to the landscape are emphasized throughout and natural light floods most spaces, giving visitors an on-going connection to Washington’s estate.