West 8’s Master Plan for Houston Botanic Garden Receives Mayors Approval
Developed and refined with extensive input from the public, West 8’s master plan reflects the top desires of the community: walking trails, experience of the bayou, shady pathways, access to nature, and places to host community events.
The 120 acres on which the Houston Botanic Garden will grow is bordered and bifurcated by Sims Bayou. The site is a fertile location that has provided the design team with a unique opportunity to integrate Houston’s waterways and complement the natural landscape.
West 8’s design gives forethought to the site’s biggest environmental challenges: flooding and intense weather events. Using Sims Bayou and the Bayou Meander as site-organizers, the Master Plan design shapes and sculpts the existing topography to create gardens along the bayou edge that absorb and invite flooding. The design also elevates the heart of the garden above the 100-year flood plain to protect buildings and the Collection Gardens from Houston’s intense floods.
The Garden is divided into two main precincts: the Island and the South Gardens. A scenic driveway called the Botanic Mile leads from the Garden entrance off Park Place Boulevard, leaps over Sims Bayou with an iconic bridge, and brings visitors to the arrival plaza in the South Gardens.
The Island will be dominated by gardens, both naturalistic and cultivated. These gardens provide year-round beauty, delight the senses, and offer educational value. A botanically inspired glass conservatory extends the plant repertoire by providing a setting for exotic plants from tropical climates. Visitor-oriented amenities – like educational facilities, an events pavilion for weddings and community receptions, a café, and a lecture hall – are strategically located to provide destinations and provisions for guests. All of these are linked by an extensive network of pathways, many of which offer shade and are weather-protected by colonnades.
By weaving together shady pathways, a mosaic of ever-changing gardens, the bayou and other water bodies, West 8’s Master Plan for Houston Botanic Garden amplifies the potential of the site’s qualities and unites the site into a coherent, “only-in-Houston,” garden experience.
Construction of the first phase of the 120-acre project, located off Interstate 45 between William P. Hobby Airport and the University of Houston, is slated to begin in 2018.