The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden’s exquisite landscape and facilities offer educational and cultural programs for all age groups, significantly contributing to the Dallas community. The evolution of the Arboretum, from private estate to a leading cultural institution, is the result of the work of remarkable individuals with the courage and vision to plan for generations beyond their lifetime. Phase one of their expansion, the new, eight-acre Children’s Adventure Garden extends the Arboretum’s northern end, animating a previously undeveloped and steeply sloped portion of the site. The Children’s Garden offers drop-off and pick-up for hundreds of visiting primary school students and families, secure ticketing, an orientation amphitheater, and 17 integrated learning galleries along meandering accessible pathways for visitors to engage at their own pace.
The Exploration Center is a central focus of the Garden. Bermed into the natural slope, the Center houses indoor-outdoor learning areas, innovative exhibits, and interactive technology developed to meet state and national science education standards and engage school children in earth and life science exploration. The Texas Skywalk, a 200-foot long elevated architectural walkway, provides accessibility across the site and meanders through a tree canopy, soaring 20 feet above the lush understory. The Skywalk and other exhibits provide unique views into the interconnections between living organisms and their habitats, from the tree tops to the landscape below. The garden conveys science concepts in a manner not possible in a classroom and provides science support for schools to challenge students through more engaging methods.
Dallas has become a powerhouse in STEM education facilities. The second phase of the Arboretum’s expansion is the Garden Education Center. A unique facility at the forefront of STEM education, this new building will complement the other science facilities in the Dallas area.
Shared/ Multi-Use Program Spaces—The Center features 17 integrated indoor and outdoor learning galleries and 150 interactive exhibits—including the OmniGlobe—a six-foot-diameter sphere that projects atmospheric and geological phenomena. At the new plant lab inside the Discovery Center, lessons learned outside are solidified with first-hand experiments utilizing innovative computer kiosks and interactive video monitors. While the program’s overall mission is to make science fun, interesting, and inspiring, the spaces also integrate unique solutions for functional and operational needs. To accommodate the needs of administration, teachers, and volunteers, while maximizing the use of built space for educational purposes and minimizing crowding within circulation areas, the programming plan thoughtfully integrates support and utility spaces within the facilities.
Building as Teaching Tool—The campus offers visitors a tangible learning experience by using techniques that incorporate low-maintenance materials, visible solar photovoltaics, natural daylighting, and buildings that incorporate both earth sheltered structures and high-mass concrete structures to temper heat gain.
Sustainable Design—Exhibits ring the viewing platform, which are shaded by photovoltaic panel screens. Many sustainable features permeate the garden: materials selected for durability and low maintenance requirements, recycled materials, planted roofs that reduce heat, low-flow plumbing, and a cistern for collecting rainwater that is recycled for irrigation.
Future Flexibility—The Garden Education Center will help expand the reach of the Dallas Arboretum. The Center provides the surrounding community a unique facility at the forefront of STEM education, and promotes the city of Dallas as a new powerhouse in STEM education facilities. The GEC will play a large role in attracting young families and expanding educational programs to further engage the Dallas community and beyond.
Architects: Dattner Architects
Location: Dallas, TX, United States
Landscape Architect: Miceli Kulik Williams Landscape Architects (MKW)
Lighting Design: Horton Lees Brogdan
Area: 48100.0 ft2
Project Year: 2013
Photographs: Casey Dunn
Manufacturers: Carl Stahl, Schüco