19.1.2024

Naples Botanical Garden Visitor Center

The Naples Botanical Garden Visitor Center is a portal to a renowned living museum representing the ecology of four subtropical regions within its 160 acres.

The center not only sits lightly on the land, but it becomes part of the narrative itself. This story is about wetland restoration, garden as ecology, and building as a quiet participant in the ecology of place, reflecting the Naples Botanical Garden mission to preserve, respect and enjoy our tropical biodiversity, because as Marjory Stoneman Douglas says in River of Grass… “There are no other Everglades in the world.”

The master plan for the garden was a collaboration between Lake|Flato and a team of five landscape architects; each one designed a unique “Garden with Latitude” to represent a different subtropical region that falls between the 26th latitudes. The design team organized the garden around a central spine of wetland plants known as the “River of Grass,” which represents the Everglades, South Florida’s most dominant landscape feature. This spine of sawgrass not only works to naturally filter stormwater in the garden, but also to demonstrate the valuable role the Everglades play in cleansing water that slowly flows from farm and ranch lands of central Florida down to the Gulf of Mexico.

Porches, arbors, and boardwalks provide a perch at the headwaters of the River of Grass and float in lush fields of flora. This network of exterior circulation through the plant collections and gardens creates an immersive and engaging experience for visitors and researchers as well as an enticing venue for events. The entry sequence, designed in collaboration with Raymond Jungles, creates a sense of entering an exotic landscape. A unifying element of the design is a lofty arbor, which has been allowed to become artfully overgrown as it filters the sun and provides respite from the hot Florida climate.

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