The Bellevue Botanical Garden improvements, led by Olson Kundig Architects, include a new Visitor Center complex, renovations of a mid-century residence, and extensive site work. Targeting a minimum of LEED Silver certification, these improvements will enhance the existing educational program and provide facilities for greater numbers of visitors.
“The Bellevue Botanical Garden has the potential to become one of the finest botanical gardens in the world,” shared Jim Olson, founder of Olson Kundig Architects. “I grew up in the Northwest and have spent my life exploring ways to bring architecture and nature closer together, to blur the distinction of indoors and outdoors and to frame nature so that its beauty is celebrated. This project offers a chance to bring my lifelong exploration to a place where it would encourage others to love nature as much as I do.”
Further description and rendering following the break.
Since its opening in 1992, the Bellevue Botanical Garden has become one of the most heavily-visited public gardens in the Pacific Northwest. The design of the new Visitor Center defers to nature, blurring the boundaries between architecture and the gardens while creating spaces that allow the institution to meet its varied goals.
The scope of improvements includes new construction, renovation and site work. • New Visitor Center Complex The centerpiece of the project is a new 8,500 SF Visitor Center complex, which will include an outdoor covered orientation space with displays and maps, a gift shop, meeting space, office space and restrooms. A sheltering roof, fernery walls, and gardens will unite the spaces and create a natural flow between indoors and out. Multi-purpose classrooms and meeting spaces are designed to meet the rising interest in all-ages education at the Garden. These flexible spaces will accommodate a wide range of programming.
• Renovation of the Shorts’ House The Shorts’ House was designed in the 1950s by Northwest master architect Paul Kirk. Jim Olson, who worked with Kirk early in his career and is internationally recognized for his residential designs, has remodeled the house to serve the Garden’s needs while retaining its intimate appeal. The 2,300 SF building will contain meeting rooms, a library, and accessory spaces to the Visitor Center.
• Parking Lot Reconfiguration The new parking lot will double the Garden’s current capacity and provide safer pedestrian access to the Visitor Center complex. As an extensive winter garden, the parking lot will establish the sequence and experience of the Garden. Additionally, the Garden will undergo extensive landscape work and the development of outdoor circulation spaces. Existing gardens will be enhanced and new gardens will be developed, including the Fernery, Spring Court and the Iris Rain Garden.
The overall project is a collaboration between the Bellevue Botanical Garden, the City of Bellevue, and the design team. Jim Olson, FAIA, of Olson Kundig Architects has led the design team, teaming up with landscape architect Barbara Swift, ASLA, of Swift Company LLC, and the world-renowned botanist Dan Hinkley. Kevin Kudo King, AIA LEED AP of Olson Kundig Architects is the project manager.
Fundraising for the project is currently underway. In 2009 the Garden embarked on a capital campaign to raise the $11 million needed to complete the renovation and redevelopment project, with $6 million already committed through the 2008 Parks Levy passage, CIP Process and a challenge grant from the City of Bellevue. The Bellevue Botanical Garden Society is committed to raising the remaining $5 million to complete the redevelopment.