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 wings.

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 Boston.

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.

Photo Credits:

Greg Halpern: #1
Alan Ward: #2,#5,#8
Chuck Choi Architectural Photography: #3,#4,#6,#7