At a Glance

A museum’s central water features meet the highly modern aesthetic while also using and biologically filtering harvested rainwater from its rooftops.

Project Description

Since 1945, the Glenstone Estate and Museum has established a world-class collection of post-World War II artwork. The power of this art, along with the energy of Glenstone’s architecture and the restorative quality of its rural, 150-acre landscape, are considered to be integral parts of the museum experience.

When Glenstone sought to expand in order to accommodate their growing collection, they turned to Thomas Phifer and Partners, who designed The Pavilions. The Pavilions building is comprised of several rooms connected by a glass enclosed passage.

Biohabitats worked with the design team to create an 18,000 square foot water court that is enclosed by this glass passage. The water feature, which is fed by rainwater harvested from the museum’s rooftops, not only supports seasonally changing plant life, but provides a provocative link between the natural and built environment. The feature employs both biological and conventional filtration processes to keep the pond water clean. Planted gravel beds in the feature serve as biofilters through which the water is recirculated, while bead filters and an ozone injection system provide additional treatment in the mechanical room below. In 2024, the museum achieved LEED Gold certification.



Chesapeake/Delaware Bays

Physiographic Province

Atlantic Coastal Plain


Chesapeake Bay

Expertise Areas

Design & Build, Infrastructure, Water


Potomac, Maryland, United States


2019 ASLA Honor Award for General Design

Best in Competition, 2020 AIANY Design Award

Gold Award for Excellent Architecture, 2020 German Design Award

Project Team
  • Thomas Phifer and Partners
  • Peter Walker and Partners Landscape Architecture