In September of 2013, the Naples Botanical Garden began sowing the grounds along the eastern edge of the property. Nestled between the parking lot and bordering the Children’s, Water and Asian Gardens, the Eleanor and Nicholas Chabraja Visitor Center has finally taken root and is in full bloom of for its grand opening on Thursday, October 23. The 25,000-square-foot mixed-use facility will include a new restaurant—Fogg Café, operated by Lurçat Catering; a new garden and retail shop; indoor space designed to host traveling exhibits, art shows and lectures; plenty of cool, shady seating and restrooms; and new garden vignettes to peruse.
|A rendering of the new Eleanor and Nicholas Chabraja Visitor Center at the Naples Botanical Garden – Lake | Flato Architects.|
Designed by Lake | Flato, just about every facet of the facility has been meticulously considered in order to incorporate a variety of innovative sustainable building materials and practices to minimize the new construction’s carbon footprint. This includes using recycled and reclaimed material (sinker cypress fished from Florida rivers); the incorporation of 18,000-gallon rainwater cisterns; and strategically placed windows and skylights to capitalize on Naples’ natural sunny disposition. Even the footprint of the building, the angle at which it sits, was placed to benefit from the area’s natural wind and weather patterns, as well as the sun’s daily progression across the sky. In all, the space is open and breezy, offers lots of shade and natural cross-breeze, while strategic lighting and fan placement will make for a low-energy-use structure.
|A spec of the Charismatic Garden by Raymond Jungles.|
And seeing that this new, fabulous building is at a botanical garden, new garden vignettes will surround the center. These new spaces will, as Executive Director Brian Holley put it, make it “obvious they [visitors] are in a botanical garden” as they enter. Continuing, “their environment is being affected by the plants around them through shade, sound, fragrance and texture. It’s kind of this amazing feeling of being enveloped by plants.”
To celebrate the Naples Botanical Garden’s new beginnings, we took a stroll with photographer Vanessa Rogers through the gardens to get a “butterfly’s-eye-view” of the spectacular florals.
Designed and built by Raymond Jungles, the same minds behind the property’s Brazilian Garden, these gardens will mark the completion of the botanical garden’s master plan that was first envisioned in 2006. The new visitor center and complementary gardens will stand at the highest point on the property, and, upon entry, viewers will be granted a wide vista of the site’s other garden sections. This has been a missing link—a piece to a larger puzzle that always seems to be growing.
Experience the newly bloomed Naples Botanical Garden for yourself when they host a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, October 23 at 10 a.m. Admission is $14.95 for adults.
- For more information on the new visitor center and the Naples Botanical Garden, visit naplesgarden.org.