Located in Arlington, Virginia, on the western banks of the Potomac River, this airfield was opened as the Washington National Airport by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941. Partially built upon the grounds of a former plantation, the 861-acre site originally consisted of an eighteen-acre terminal and four runways. The airport was renovated and expanded several times, including a new terminal by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects in 1997. In 1998 the airport’s name was changed to the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
The core of the airport consists of a nearly 400-acre grass airfield crisscrossed by three asphalt runways. The field is fronted by two major terminals (A and B/C) that meet at a 130-degree angle. Designed by the landscape architecture firm Balmori Associates in 1999, two rectangular, outdoor terraces bookend terminal B/C. The eastern terrace is shaded by a 10,000-square-foot, overhead trellis with espaliered wisteria planted at regular intervals. The western terrace contains a rectangular lawn encircled by wisteria that climb individual circular trellises. Enclosed, elevated walkways connect the terminals to a Metrorail, installed in 1977, and two multi-level parking garages. At the base of the Metrorail, opposite the ground floor of B/C terminal, is a serpentine, cement retaining wall and planted embankment, also designed by Balmori Associates. Hanging gardens arranged by the landscape architecture firm Oehme, van Sweden & Associates in 1996 ornament the garage walls. The Abingdon Plantation Historical Site, containing the excavated brick foundations of a nineteenth-century plantation house and kitchen, are situated on a grassy knoll between the two parking garages. The Mount Vernon Trail, which runs along the western edge behind the garages, is bounded by another Oehme, Van Sweden landscape with arrangements of ornamental grass, perennials, and seasonal shrubs. Terminal A and the South Hanger were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.