The 281-acre Arnold
Arboretum displays North America's premier collection of hardy trees, shrubs,
and vines. The grounds were planned and designed by America's first landscape
architect, Frederick Law Olmstead. Begun in 1872, the Arboretum remains one
of the best preserved of Olmsted's landscapes. The Arboretum is one of the
crown jewels in Boston's "Emerald Necklace."
This project is a collaboration with Reed I Hilderbrand Landscape Architects.
The plan of the new gardens is organic in form and spatially
rich, evoking both the botanical traditions of French parterre
gardens and the intricate patterns found in nature, such as
the branching of trees or the veined configurations of insect
The Pavilion structure, within
the new vine and shrub collection, serves as an outdoor classroom and a place
of repose. The structure is a focal point within the overall composition of
the gardens. Visitors moving toward the pavilion experience a spatial sequence
of continual discovery and disclosure, alternating between the intimacy created
by the planted vine structures and the expansiveness of the central lawn. As
one approaches the pavilion along the great wall, vine panels occlude views
to the planted terraces, and gradually reveal the shelter. Once at the pavilion,
attention is directed out over the prospect of the gardens, revealing the expanse
of the site and affording a view of the terraces from an elevated vantage point.
The pavilion structure
is comprised of brushed stainless steel beams and columns that support a roof
of lead-coated copper over natural cedar tongue and grove. The materiality
of the pavilion evokes the metal garden structures of the late 19th century.
The juxtaposition of the wood elements with the stainless steel allows for a
reading that is both modern and vernacular, both clean and textured. The durability
of the steel pavilion and trellis structures is a practical response to the
demands of woody twining vines such as Wisteria that can twist and destroy a
wooden structure. The south edge of the pavilion structure is lined with vine
supports that when fully planted will allow for the southern sun to throw a
dappled green light onto the shade of the pavilion's stone floor. The pavilion's
columns and beams rise from the earth with a natural economy of means, while
its system of struts and cables suggest an architectural interpretation of the
tendrils of climbing vines. The geometry of the column lines shift in plan and
section, at once veiling the entrance to the pavilion, then opening the space
dramatically out toward the gardens.
Two sections of wood
and metal roof float overhead with the same slightly skewed shapes as the planting
beds, the forms of the earth seemingly transposed to the sky. The slot of space
between the two roofs allows shafts of southern sun and views of the sky to
penetrate to the terrace below. Stainless steel railings with polished wood
caps provide a glistering contrast to the earth and stone that surround them.
The exquisitely crafted stone walls that form a base for the structure connect
it to the terraces below and the hills and trees in the background.
A team of 12 masons from the Azores Islands built the non-reinforced
three foot thick stone walls forming the garden terraces in
the tradition of both agricultural terraces dating back centuries,
and Richardson's stone walls so indicative of late 19th century
Construction was completed in 2002.
The project has received a 1999 Boston Society of Landscape
Architects Unbuilt Honor Award, 2002 Boston Society
of Architects Design Citation Award, and has been published
in the July 2000 issue of Landscape Architecture.
Award of Excellence, The Outdoor Classroom and Vine Trellises at Leventritt Shrub and Vine Garden at Arnold Arboretum, American Society of Landscape Architects.
Finalist, The Harleston Parker Medal, honoring “the most beautiful piece of architecture in Boston”, The Outdoor Classroom at Arnold Arboretum.