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Here's a Look at the Master Plan for the Louisville Waterfront Botanical Garden


The group behind a project to build a botanical garden on Louisville’s waterfront will unveil its master plan tonight.

The non-profit Botanicahas been working to create a botanical garden and conservancy in Louisville for several years. The chosen site is where Frankfort Avenue and River Road intersect: it’s where the Louisville neighborhood The Pointe was before the 1937 flood devastated the area. Later, it was a landfill. Now, it’s been remediated and is suitable for a garden.

Botanica President Brian Voelker said there will be three main buildings on the site: a Visitor Center, a Conservatory and an Education Pavilion.

“Looking at it from above, we have a design element that we sometimes call the spine,” he said. “ It’s a main walkway that traverses the site from east to west, and it will take visitors from the Visitor’s Center, which is the main building on the site, through a planted trellis, through a tree alley, all the way to an overlook that pokes out over Beargrass Creek.”

There’s also a Children’s Garden planned and a Japanese Garden with a tea house. And many of the pathways and buildings have the same curving architecture. Voelker said this was intentional. They decided on this look after studying existing gardens and structures.

“And people really liked curvilinear lines,” he said. “They liked the idea of soft structures, they liked the idea of environments where you could get lost and sort of explore the area. So you’ll see that in the master plan.”

The garden is also planned to be as sustainable as possible, which Voelker said will make this project stand out among its peers.

“We are in a really interesting and unique position,” he said. “Because if you think about most botanical gardens, a lot of gardens were built 100, 150 years ago, and they were designed in a way where the buildings have heating and cooling issues, and they’ve got a lot of sustainability challenges.”

All of the garden’s structures will be LEED platinum certified or better, and there’s a water filtration garden which will capture and clean gray water (like water that was used in hand-washing) from the Visitor Center.

The master plan cost $260,000. Voelker said the whole project will probably cost about $35 to $40 million, but the board has identified an initial phase that will cost $10 million. Now, Botanica will begin a capital campaign and when the first $10 million is raised, construction will begin.

“If you think about other cities our size, each of those cities already has a botanical garden and it was built by the people who came before us,” Voelker said. “This is a project for our town and our generation and we’ve got a chance to create something that’s going to be around for 150 years or more. So, I think it’s a really unique opportunity and I’d like to invite the community to get involved.”

The plan will be unveiled tonight at a meeting at the Louisville Water Tower, but Voelker said the event is already sold out.

You can see more images from the master plan onBotanica's website.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.