George Washington's Mount Vernon Ford Orientation Center

Mount Vernon, VA

Two theaters with total seating for 450
Orientation exhibits
Ticketing, visitor information, retail services
Dedicated individual and group entries and amenities
Mount Vernon Ladies' Association
Programming, Site Analysis, Fundraising Materials, Cost Estimating, Full Design Services, Construction Administration

Upon entering George Washington’s historic estate, the first impression is of an agricultural pasture. Only after turning left do visitors encounter the intimate entry courtyard of the Ford Orientation Center, the remainder of which is concealed behind a modest garden wall. This journey metaphorically interprets the one that Washington himself designed for visitors to his home. Inside, an elliptical floor-to-ceiling wall of glass embraces nature, visually connecting visitors to Washington’s landscape.

Of its own time yet respectful of the historic setting, the new center is designed “in the spirit of George Washington”—representing the design team’s interpretation of what George Washington himself might have created if he had all of the options available to designers today.

“The reactions of the estate’s staff and visitors have been uniformly positive—all are impressed not just by the content and message of the buildings, but by the sensitive design solution and the way the buildings have transformed the visitor experience at Mount Vernon.”

—Jim Rees, former Executive Director, George Washington’s Mount Vernon


AIA Maryland Excellence in Design Citation Award
AIA Baltimore Grand Design Award
AIA Baltimore Design Award