Wildflower is published quarterly by the Wildflower Center. Its content is national in scope with articles about the conservation and use of native plants as well as news from the Wildflower Center. A subscription is provided to Wildflower Center members as a benefit of membership.
VISITORS COMING TO THE WILDFLOWER CENTER this spring will be treated while they are buying their tickets to a visual preview of the sustainability philosophy that guides all that we do.
Thanks to architect Christopher L. Sanders of Austin, who contributed his services, and other suppliers who discounted theirs, we now have a jewel of an admission kiosk located at the visitors’ drop-off near the big limestone cistern.
This 13’ x 8’ structure, which shows our visitors a green roof as well as the HABITURF™ native turf grass developed at the Wildflower Center, is a safety necessity as well as a model for sustainable design and a valuable teaching aid.
Until now, during busy days at the Center, cars often were lined up two abreast at the entrance gate, where our old gatehouse is located, and backed up on La Crosse Avenue. Our admissions staff had to wind between cars collecting fees, checking memberships and handing out maps. It was a frustrating situation for everyone.
The solution was to move admissions away from the street gate so visitors could park first and walk to the kiosk before entering the Center. Unlike the old gatehouse, the kiosk will be staffed whenever the Center is open.
Presented with a design challenge, Sanders, who heads the Gardens and Site Management Committee of our Advisory Council, offered to design an admissions structure that also would demonstrate our research and sustainability features. Just as importantly, the kiosk provides a better opportunity to sign up new members and answer questions from visitors. It also includes an ADA-accessible admission window.
Small in size, the kiosk is big on sustainable features such as cork flooring, sustainably harvested wood, a green roof and a green wall irrigated by air-conditioning condensate. The steel in the building is recycled and, as much as possible, materials were obtained locally. Solar panels provide enough electricity to power a flat-screen TV that displays continually updated information about the day’s events and wildflowers in bloom.
It is the first newly constructed building since the Center was opened in 1995, and as a model for 21st Century sustainable building practices, it demonstrates our commitment to, as Mrs. Johnson said, finding ways to “harmonize the needs of nature and the needs of people.”
We are so grateful to Chris Sanders for the design. His extraordinary contribution is just one example of the dedication, generosity and talents of our Advisory Council members. Thanks also to Jason Miars of Miars Construction for discounting the construction price and to SteelHouse Manufacturing, TreeHouse and Greenscreen for discounting their services. Funding for construction was contributed by Ellen and Buddy Temple and Wildflower Donor Inc.— Susan K. Rieff, Executive Director