What might a new addition to Botanical Gardens look like?

Lauren Colley model of Botanical Gardens
Lauren Colley

If the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens were to build an addition, what might it look like?

Designs by senior architecture students at the University at Buffalo provide a starting point for the community to begin talking about such a project, said David J. Swartz, president and CEO.

You can see models of six different concepts — and vote on your favorite one– from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Sunday, April 7 at the Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Avenue, Buffalo.

The exhibit is called LifeCycles: An Orangery and Demonstration Garden Exhibit. Fashionable in 19th century Italy, an orangery was a building where citrus trees were nurtured during the winter. In warmer months, the trees were moved outside to provide an event space to host parties, weddings and celebrations.

Having space for both plants and events is something the Botanical Gardens needs. It hosts weddings and other events, but that space is limited. If the gardens had more room to hold events, it could produce more revenue, Swartz explained in a press conference Friday that unveiled the students’ work. (See more photos and descriptions of the projects below.)

“These are concepts of what could be in the future life of the Botanical Gardens,” Swartz said. “They provide something to present to the public and donors.”

The students’ work provides the opportunity for discussions to take place with foundations, private donors and government to find resources.

“Hopefully, we can raise the resources so we can build this out,”  Swartz said.

A total of 60 students participated in the design studio, and all of the students’ concepts will be compiled in a book, said Omar Khan, chair of architecture at UB.

The studio was taught by professors Brian Carter, Nerea Feliz, Curt Gambetta, Jordan Geiger (coordinator) and Brad Wales.

Here is a glimpse of the students’ work:

Vincent Ribeiro at Botanical Gardens in Buffalo
Vincent Ribeiro

Vincent Ribeiro

The trees in the exhibits grow taller, and the building in Vincent Ribeiro’s  design could grow taller, too. He would use tubular construction techniques that would allow the ribs of the building to be increased in height, perhaps once a year, to accommodate the growth of trees on exhibit.

Rather than have separate rooms for different environments as there is now, his plan would house the exhibits in one large space with gradual transitions from desert plants to palms. The roof could open to allow ventilation in the summer.

The new building would connect to the current building by an underground tunnel.

Christa Trautman model of Botanical Gardens
Christa Trautman

Christa Trautman

The dome of the current building is an iconic structure, and Christa Trautman didn’t want the new building in her concept to obscure that view. Rather than construct a tall building, she would carve into the earth, creating huge shapes that mimic the shape of the dome. Constructing the new structure over these depressions would allow trees and other plants in the exhibit to grow as tall as they need to.

The new building would be situated in a way that would allow guests to look out into South Park, which was designed by famed landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted.

The old and new buildings would connect, and a bridal party would be able to have a procession from the current dome to the new building, adding a romantic touch to the wedding.

Nate Heckman architectural design in Buffalo NY
Nate Heckman

Nate Heckman

The exhibits in the Botanical Gardens are from areas around the world that are located on the same meridian as Buffalo.

Nate Heckman would arrange the plants in his new, large addition not by climate, but by the country that they’re from. By arranging the exhibits in a spiral, he would be able to group the plants from the warmer climates together and the plants from the cooler climates together.

The exhibits would be displayed within a single, domed building. A dome within the dome would help control the climate.

Timothy Boll model Botanical Gardens
Timothy A. Boll

Timothy A. Boll

The main idea of the design by Timothy A. Boll is to use only one heating source and one cooling source to create all the micro-climates needed for the various plants. He aims to have areas ranging in temperature from 40 to 87 degrees Fahrenheit all in a single building with no walls.

Currently, the Botanical Gardens had individual rooms for its various plant collections. Boll’s design would use a single structure with a source of cold air situated high above the plants and a heat source near ground level. Since cold air falls and hot air rises, the air would constantly be moving and mixing. The air nearest the cold source would remain cold, the air nearest the heat source would remain hot, and the air in the middle would be warm.

You can see Boll’s diagram below, with cold air colored blue, hot air colored red, and warm air indicated by yellows and greens.

Plants would also be on platforms at different heights to take advantage of the different air temperatures at different heights.temperature model for architectural concept in Buffalo NY

Lauren Colley

Merging the Botanical Gardens with South Park is a goal of Lauren Colley’s concept. (See a photo of her with her model at the beginning of this article.)

The new building would be designed so that visitors would walk through outside gardens as well as inside gardens as they moved through the space. Going outside would be part of the experience; the interior gardens alternate with the exterior gardens.

A mesh covered with plants would hang over the exterior spaces. Some of the spaces would have more solid coverings so that visitors wouldn’t be exposed that much to the weather. The paths in the outdoor spaces would be short compared to those in the indoor spaces.

So during the winter, should visitors bundle up for the outdoor weather or leave their coat in the coat room?

“Personally, I’d still check my coat,” Colley said.

4 Comments on “What might a new addition to Botanical Gardens look like?

  1. Bravo! Excellent projects from the UB students. Well done and congratulations to the students chosen to display and to all of the students who participated. Hats off to their professors for encouraging such wonderful creativity.

  2. Very interesting ideas, all so different, with the same aim. You can tell the students devoted time and research to their plans.

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