by Balmori Associates as Architects - Tue, 22 June 2010
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In May 2005, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) selected Balmori Associates to design the landscape for their new facilities in Fort Worth, TX. Taking on a central and unifying role, this parking lot will be more than an asphalt desert. The parking system gathers, filters and reuses rain water on site, provides shade under the canopy of species native to North Central Texas, and operates as an open air botanical laboratory. The site is laid out in spines of research fields and rain gardens so that the parking experience is transformed into a walk through research fields along a tree-shaded and richly planted environment. The botanic theme is made visible and is experienced not just at the building but at the moment of arrival in the often ignored and unpleasant entry: the parking lot. BRIT is a working landscape displays botanical research in planting beds “systematics”. Systematics includes research toward an understanding of evolutionary relationships among species. Its parking lot is a display of water cleaning plants which are at work in the swell running along each parking lot section; the planted water serves to keep the lot green; its cleaned water is saved for irrigation. The beautiful Fort Worth Prairie, a disappearing landscape, is worked into the back section of the site and it is worked into the green roof to create a niche for preserving it in a new form for the future. The geological strata of the Fort Worth Prairie of thin limestones and sands is recast as a set of seating ledges for outdoor education. Also, the sustainable image of the institute is broadcast also by the walls of the herbarium which are designed with overlapping vines.
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