Missouri Botanical Garden To Build New $92 Million Welcome Center
Missouri Botanical Garden will soon begin construction of a $92 million visitor center to accommodate growing crowds.
The current center, which offers cramped quarters for visitors during peak times, was built in 1982 and designed to accommodate 250,000 visitors a year. But annual attendance is now nearly 1 million.
Work on the privately funded center is expected to begin in January and be completed by the spring of 2022.
The 90,000-square-foot center will be designed to give visitors a smoother entrance and exit. It will include a sit-down cafe with views of the gardens, a shop for outdoor plants, an auditorium and enlarged space for special events, conferences and private functions.
Other planned features include new gardens and fountains, as well as a year-round conservatory for Mediterranean plants.
“We are so proud of the Missouri Botanical Garden as a world-class institution,” Peter Wyse Jackson, president of Missouri Botanical Garden, said in a video accompanying Monday’s announcement. “But a world-class institution needs to have a world-class front door. And that’s what this new visitor center will provide us with.”
The project is designed by Ayers Saint Gross, a Baltimore-based architectural firm known for its work on college campuses. The landscape architect is Michael Vergason.
The new facilities are designed to make for better flow of foot traffic, and more space for small groups to gather on the garden grounds.
Some plantings will be relocated to accommodate the new layout. Linnean House, the distinctive greenhouse, will remain largely unaltered.
“This project will be transformative for the garden setting … but it goes beyond that,” Jackson said. “It will also be transformative for St. Louis, providing a wonderful new beacon in the regeneration of St. Louis and further building confidence in St. Louis as a great city, as a great region for people to live, work and play.”
As part of the changes to the grounds, the Missouri Botanical Garden will shed “a limited number” of parking spaces, according to a fact sheet that accompanied the announcement. The organization will continue to rely on shuttles to and from off-site parking lots for some visitor parking.
The visitor center will be named after Jack C. Taylor, the late founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car and, later, Enterprise Holdings, a family of companies that includes other car rental chains. The Taylor family is among the private donors who are funding the project.
The garden will remain open to visitors during this time, and all programming and special events will continue as previously scheduled.
Jeremy can be found on Twitter @jeremydgoodwin.
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