Designing a future to take root at Botanical Gardens

University at Buffalo architecture students, from left, Timothy Boll, Whitney Van Houten, Christa Trautman, Lauren Colley and Nate Heckman

University at Buffalo architecture students, from left, Timothy Boll, Whitney Van Houten, Christa Trautman, Lauren Colley and Nate Heckman discuss their designs for the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens.

Published April 2, 2013

To get a glimpse of what the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens may look like in the future, head over and take a look at a new exhibit of designs that explores the possibilities.

LifeCycles, an Orangery and Demonstration Garden Exhibit, opened Friday and will run through April 7.

Six architecture students from the University at Buffalo created the exhibit, and each of their designs focuses on strategies for the potential of the horticulture attraction.

“We can present to the public, members and donors these concepts that could be at the Botanical Gardens,” David J. Swarts, Botanical Gardens president, said during Friday’s opening.

Fashionable in Europe in the 17th to 19th centuries, an orangery was a building, greenhouse or conservatory where citrus trees were wintered and moved outside in warmer months to provide event space.

All six plans were designed with the possible addition of an Orangery at the Botanical Gardens.

Timothy Boll’s design – Convective Gardens – reproduces the Gulf Stream effect in which a cold source on top and hot on the bottom creates different climates. Boll’s design re-creates the effect in a single room that has suspended platforms with a variety of plants, explained Nerea Feliz, a visiting architecture professor at UB. It minimizes the need to subdivide collections in different houses of the Botanical Gardens.

“You can have cacti and [cold weather] plants in one room,” Feliz said.

Lauren Colley’s Botanical Immersion uses 10 different pavilions to create a new garden experience. It weaves the interior and exterior of the Botanical Gardens with South Park so that park visitors can view the gardens from outside.

“We merge the [two] to make it a one-user experience,” Colley said.

The idea behind Orbits, a proposal by Nathaniel Heckman, is to remove various plants from the current building and put them into different buildings to open up the Palm Dome for weddings, parties and receptions.

Vincent Ribeiro’s Selective Branching and Marc Velocci’s Adaptation both focus on buildings that can extend/expand and contract according to the needs of the gardens. The architectural flexibility allows the buildings to adapt to seasonal change and temperatures.

Ribeiro’s design is like a “telescopic structure” that allows building sections to expand and contract as plants grow, Feliz said.

In the Adaptation model, structures would be affixed to tracks that would move the buildings to be bigger or smaller. This allows for flexibility of buildings to host different collections and exhibits, Felix said.

Christa Trautman’s Carving Coherence aims to unite the old and the new by inverting some of the domed structures to create excavated gardens that mimic the forms of the exiting domes.

The exhibit is included with admission to the Botanical Gardens: $9 for adults, $8 for seniors at least age 55 and students at least age 13 with identification; and $5 for children 3 to 12. Garden members and kids under three are free.