A Conservatory Reimagined Booklet

Page 1

A Message From the Executive Board Dear Friends and Supporters,

From new layouts, waterfalls, planting exhibits, educational

The dramatic transformation of Myriad Botanical

the upgraded and reimagined Crystal Bridge will carry the

Gardens completed a decade ago has been nothing short of astonishing. With an investment of more than $42 million to reinvigorate these 15 acres in the center of Oklahoma City, hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoy the Gardens every year. With its iconic and striking Crystal Bridge Conservatory set over an ornamental lake and surrounded by beautiful gardens, trees, lawns, water features, a children’s play area and more, our outdoor spaces now brim with activity and discovery.

and art elements, overlooks and a museum-quality gift shop, Gardens to new heights. We are confident this investment underscores its longstanding place in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, and will help to secure its long term success and sustainability for the next 30 years. With the conservatory doors now closed and the work beginning, we are in the final phase of raising funds for this project. Please join us in supporting A Conservatory Reimagined campaign and be a part of this continuing evolution of the Gardens and downtown Oklahoma City.

To fully complete the Gardens makeover and strengthen its competitiveness as a visitor destination, we have a unique opportunity to re-envision the interior of the Crystal Bridge. In 2018 we completed the first phase of our Campaign for the Future, renovating the south Visitor Lobby, as well as classroom spaces on the lower level. Now we are set to begin the second phase of this exciting plan with the first complete renovation of the interior of conservatory since it opened in 1988.

Larry Nichols | Chair, Executive Board, Myriad Gardens Foundation James R. Tolbert III | Chair Emeritus, Myriad Gardens Foundation


ntering the Crystal Bridge Conservatory is like taking a trip to an exotic locale, leaving Oklahoma for the tropical rainforest and desert climates of the world. The Conservatory is your vessel to experience the wildly diverse and fascinating botanical outpouring of these places. From orchids to agaves and from bananas to mangos, these plants have a limitless appeal to our senses and intellect. A reimagined Crystal Bridge Conservatory will make your journey through it more beautiful and educationally enriching. You will want to make repeat visits throughout the year to experience all of the wonderful new elements. We need your support to reimagine our iconic Conservatory. With your help, we can raise the Conservatory to the same level of excellence as our outdoor grounds were improved when Devon Energy and the City of Oklahoma City redesigned them in 2011 thanks to their investments. That renovation unleashed the potential of the Gardens’ 15-acre site to become the transformative, award-winning green space that now attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. A reimagined Conservatory will have a similar transformative effect in attracting more visitors and revenues. From marveling at an orchid display and dramatic waterfall upon entry, to discovering tropical water lilies in a reflecting pool and to relaxing on overlook terraces, our reimagined Conservatory will be one of the best and most unique conservatories in the country. The renovation will also help us grow our earned revenue streams from admission ticket sales, memberships and a new gift shop, all contributing towards long-term financial sustainability. A generation ago, visionary civic leaders and the City of Oklahoma City, worked together to build Myriad Botanical Gardens’ Crystal Bridge Conservatory and gardens. Today, a new group of private donors, led by Inasmuch Foundation, is working with the public sector to ensure that Myriad Gardens has the funds to invest in maintaining the Gardens as a vibrant and quality cultural attraction. I hope you will join them by making a generous contribution to Myriad Botanical Gardens’ capital campaign. Your gift will help keep Myriad Botanical Gardens growing strong for the next generation. Thank you.

Be part of this once-in-a generation opportunity to reimagine the Conservatory at Myriad Botanical Gardens. From new layouts, overlooks, plant exhibits and educational opportunities, the renovation underway will reinvigorate the Crystal Bridge Conservatory. Gifts to A Conservatory Reimagined Campaign supports the long term success for The Gardens. For more information on naming opportunities or making a campaign gift to build a better Bridge, please contact Maureen Heffernan, mheffernan@myriadgardens.org, or (405) 445-7081

The Crystal Bridge Conservatory, A Downtown Oklahoma City Icon


hile downtown Oklahoma City has changed dramatically over the past 15 years, the Crystal Bridge Conservatory at Myriad Botanical Gardens remains the city’s most recognized architectural icon. It’s distinctive cylindrical shape, still timelessly modern and intriguing, is an example of one of the world’s most unique conservatories. Opened in 1988 as the centerpiece for the 15-acre Myriad Botanical Gardens, it has now served a generation and introduced all ages to a fascinating exotic plant collection featuring thousands of tropical and desert plants. Walking up and down through three levels of plantings and views, the Conservatory immerses visitors in a trip to the rainforest and desert climates. Hundreds of thousands of visitors have discovered how bananas, mangos, vanilla beans and cinnamon grow, and have marveled at giant agave, cacti and other desert plants living in the arid collection. These visits enrich understanding and appreciation for plants and their habitats. Visitors leave understanding more about the interdependencies of all eco-systems and the need for conservation efforts to preserve precious habitats locally and throughout the world. For nearly 35 years, the Conservatory has anchored the Gardens. Children who grew up visiting as young students now have children of their own. Just as our outdoor grounds were renovated in 2011, it is time to invest in the Conservatory’s renovation to ensure this icon’s interior spaces remain a strong educational and enjoyable attraction that appeals to all ages and abilities.

The Renovation Because the Crystal Bridge has not changed much over the last 35 years, we have a serious need to replace aging infrastructure, mechanicals systems, outdated display elements and spaces, lighting and flooring, as well as improve accessibility. To attract new audiences and repeat visitations to the Conservatory, we must also upgrade the total visitor experience. Enhancements will include the educational experience for all ages featuring new signage, interactive displays and a classroom and gift shop. Plants will be showcased to better tell their fascinating stories, and explain why plant habitats must be cared for and protected both locally and throughout the world. Outdoor improvements include adding new wayfaring signage and redesigning our South Entry Plaza as a more attractive and welcoming entrance.

The Right Time To ensure our long-term financial sustainability, we must make major renovations now. As our grounds are free and open to the public, paid admission to the Conservatory is our largest source of earned revenue. By investing in this major renovation, we can make the Conservatory a more appealing attraction for Oklahoma residents and other visitors, and as a rental venue. With Scissortail Park and a new Convention Center just steps from the Gardens, a more reimagined Conservatory with changing exhibits will take advantage of increased visitors to downtown. Improving the Conservatory presents the Gardens with the opportunity to earn increased revenue from ticket sales, membership, rentals and a new retail shop.

What the Campaign will Achieve Fixing Infrastructure • Fix mechanicals including HVAC systems • Install water purification system for plants and water features • Replace old flooring and staircases

Enhanced Conservatory Experience • Planting plan to better showcase educational themes • Plant labels and interpretive signage and displays • Terraces and overlooks for visitors to sit and enjoy views and displays • Water features – a redesigned waterfall and new reflection pool and rivulet stream • Lighting throughout all three levels • Staircases at south and north ends of the Conservatory for easier access up and down to main floor, second level and Skywalk • Elevator at north entrance for improved accessibility • Seating on main floor and second level terraces • Outdoor wayfinding for visitors of the Gardens and nearby attractions

New Visitor and Education Spaces • New classroom and workshop space • Retail shop as visitor amenity and new revenue stream • Family Discovery Room on the second floor for children and their families to provide hands-on learning activities before or after a visit to the Conservatory • Redesigned Oculus Room with built-in seating, new lighting, gallery space and sound • South entrance to Visitor Lobby and Conservatory redesigned with new landscaping, seating and shade trees



magine the interior of the Crystal Bridge Conservatory having the kind of renovation as dramatic as the outdoor grounds transformation completed in 2011. With an investment of $11 million in the Conservatory interior spaces, the Conservatory will match the world-class attraction level of our outdoor gardens and grounds. Envision new spaces for school groups to learn, for seniors to socialize and families to explore and discover all the wonders of a rainforest or desert. Think how a modernized Conservatory adds a valuable element to attract visitors to downtown Oklahoma City throughout the year. The founders of Myriad Botanical Gardens and its tropical conservatory were visionaries who dreamt big and worked to fulfill those dreams. We have a chance now to finally fulfill the promise of making the Gardens truly world class with a Conservatory that is one of the most distinctive and lovely in the world. Our need is great. The return will be a Conservatory that has an increased visitorship and a higher level of repeat visitors, members and supporters who value its quality. As stewards of the Gardens, we must make the needed improvements now to optimize the visitor experience and plan for a long term future of financial stability.

Campaign At-A-Glance The Conservatory Reimagined is a complete redesign of all interior spaces in the Crystal Bridge Conservatory

Capital Improvements: $11 million New

Plants and planting plan

Interpretive signage and displays

Family Discovery Room

Outdoor wayfaring signage

Classroom and workroom

Elevator for improved accessibility

Overlook terraces

Gift shop

Oculus Room and Gallery

Upgraded/new HVAC, lighting,

South Entry Plaza design

waterfall and reflecting pool Cloud Portal Sculpture


ith the opening of new housing developments and construction of large retail malls in the suburbs, downtown Oklahoma City began to decline in the 1950s as people migrated out of the city center. Alarmed by this trend, a group of civic leaders formed the Urban Action Foundation, headed by Dean McGee, co-founder of the largest oil and gas company in the city. To address the issue of urban flight, they commissioned renowned architect I.M. Pei to redesign the downtown business district. The centerpiece of Pei’s plan was a park. At his suggestion, the group traveled to Copenhagen to study the Tivoli Gardens which he believed was one of the world’s best examples of the impact of a highly developed green space in the center of a city. To realize this concept the foundation conducted a national design competition and selected Conklin and Resonate of New York to design the park. They envisioned a six square block of green space, dubbed the Myriad Gardens, at the geographic center of the city, crisscrossed by a lake and bridged by two tubeshaped glass conservatories. In the early 1970s, the City of Oklahoma City created the Myriad Gardens Authority, again led by McGee, to build the park. The Authority began mining the maze of general funding programs that had been created to help cities rebuild themselves.

The Myriad Gardens site, which had been reduced to four blocks, was purchased. After modifying the design to include only one glass tube conservatory, construction began. By the late 1970s, federal grant funds began to dry up, construction stalled and political support waned. The project was derided as a hole in the ground, a money pit. Unfazed by the erosion of public support, McGee created the Myriad Gardens Foundation to finish construction with private funds, soliciting individuals that the oil and gas boom of the 1970s had made wealthy. These efforts were slowed by the collapse of Penn Square Bank in 1982, soon followed by virtually all banks in the city and the subsequent bankruptcy of many of the new Gardens donors. Determined to complete what he called a Garden in the City, McGee turned to utility and other major companies that had traditionally supported progress in Oklahoma City. He also arranged for the director of the world-famous Longwood Gardens outside of Philadelphia to visit Oklahoma City to consult about the interior design of the conservatory. Not only did these meetings result in great design suggestions but the wife of the director, who accompanied him to Oklahoma City, suggested the name Crystal Bridge for the conservatory, and also recommended a young graduate of the Longwood Professional Gardner Program, Mike Bush, as its first executive director. Working together, Bush and Oklahoma City architect James Loftis created the basic interior design of the

Crystal Bridge that still exists today. A tropical garden, with a two-story waterfall on the south end of the conservatory and a dry mountain with desert plantings on the north. These two elements are connected by a stream, winding paths, towering palm trees and changing botanical displays. Spanning the length of the tube is an elevated walkway that offers unique treetop views. Bush traveled to Florida to purchase plants including the palm trees that are still a dominant feature and by March 25, 1988, after decades of delay and frustration, McGee, in ill health and confined to a wheelchair, cut the ribbon and opened the Crystal Bridge. More than 2000 people toured the conservatory that day. During the next 20 years, the Crystal Bridge became the iconic symbol of the city and a must-see site for tourists and residents alike. However, the development of the outdoor gardens languished. In 2009, Devon Energy Corp. began construction of a 54-story tower just north of the Gardens. Realizing the potential of the Gardens, Devon Energy CEO Larry Nichols led the effort to create a tax increment financing district (TIF) that would direct ad valorem taxes generated by the Devon Tower to the enhancement of what Nichols described as “downtown streetscapes.” Nationally recognized landscape architectural firm The Office of James Burnett was commissioned to completely redesign the exterior gardens. In addition, the Conservatory was reskinned, pathways paved, and improvements made to the mechanical systems and lower-level classrooms. That project was completed in 2011. Now with major support from the City of Oklahoma City, Devon Energy, and the Inasmuch Foundation, for the first time in nearly 35 years the interior of the Conservatory has been completely reimagined by a design team led by ADG of Oklahoma City and Murase Associates of Seattle, along with the Gecko Group and Charles Sparks + Company. The interior will be filled with educational and entertaining exhibits, and a stunningly beautiful plant collection. There will be a waterfall, pools for water plants, sites for weddings and other events, and a uniquely designed gift shop. Construction is underway with expected completion in late fall of 2022. When finished, the Conservatory and the Gardens will be equally dynamic, contributing to the ongoing renaissance of downtown Oklahoma City. McGee would be so proud. James R. Tolbert III | Chair Emeritus, Myriad Gardens Foundation

Q&A With Bob Ross President and CEO, Inasmuch Foundation

Since 2007, Inasmuch Foundation has given substantial operating support to Myriad Botanical Gardens, including updating space to house John Rex Middle School, and renovation of the Crystal Bridge Conservatory for a total of more than $4 million.

Why does The Inasmuch Foundation choose to

As an Oklahoma City native, do you have any

invest in the Gardens?

recollections of visiting the Conservatory?

Inasmuch Foundation is committed to enhancing the community by supporting open public spaces, like the Gardens, for all of Central Oklahoma and beyond to experience.

When I was a young child, I remember coming downtown to watch in awe as the Conservatory was erected in the heart of the city. I had my first visit to the Gardens in grade school, where I entered the expansive greenhouse filled with different kinds of plants. Many of the plants and trees were taller than I was at that age! Thinking about this experience brings back fond memories of exploration, excitement and wonder. I hope the same is true for everyone who visits the renovated Gardens.

What about the interior renovation of the Crystal Bridge Conservatory in particular inspired the foundation to support it?

The Crystal Bridge Conservatory is an integral part of the landscape of downtown Oklahoma City that increases tourism, offers botanical educational programs and provides a unique urban park experience. For these reasons alone, we recognized the significance of this renovation project. Additionally, we know that most conservatories need updating after 10 to 15 years. The Crystal Bridge Conservatory hasn’t had a complete makeover in 33 years, so this renovation and modernization are critical to preserving this beloved attraction.

How do the Gardens fit into the overall giving mission of The Inasmuch Foundation?

Inasmuch Foundation champions journalism, education, human services and community to improve the quality of life for Oklahomans. Myriad Botanical Gardens provide critical educational programming and natural open spaces that enhance our community tremendously.

Crystal Bridge Conservatory Gets New Name


n recognition of a $2.5 million gift to help renovate its interior, the Conservatory at Myriad Botanical Gardens will now be called the Inasmuch Foundation Crystal Bridge Conservatory. As the centerpiece of the Gardens, the Conservatory has remained largely unchanged since its opening in 1988. Home to thousands of tropical and desert plants within its 13,000 square feet, space is divided into two distinct climates: wet and dry giving visitors the experience of being in a rainforest and a desert. For the first time since 1988, a complete renovation is underway of the iconic structure’s interior spaces.

The Visitor Center Lobby of the Crystal Bridge Conservatory was renovated in 2018 as part of the first phase of the Conservatory Reimagined campaign. Phase one was made possible by a major gift from Devon Energy and the Inasmuch Foundation. This gift also helped with the renovation of lower-level classroom space for use by John Rex Middle School, as well as a new horticulture classroom.

“The Crystal Bridge at Myriad Botanical Gardens is such a recognizable structure in downtown Oklahoma City. Staff at the Gardens continually strive to create wonderful spaces and learning opportunities for Oklahoma City. When I learned of plans for reimagining the tropical plant conservatory to create a superb visitor experience, I knew Inasmuch Foundation would want to support this initiative. The second phase of the Crystal Bridge renovation capitalizes on the momentum of current downtown development.” Bob Ross, President and CEO, Inasmuch Foundation


have fond childhood memories of visiting Myriad Gardens and its Crystal Bridge Conservatory. I remember the Crystal Bridge’s striking design and how a visit inside transported me from the City’s pavement to the lush tropics and the arid desert. With its magical waterfall, palm trees, exotic flowers, and tiny lizards, those memories and this place still strongly resonate with me today. I was a child when Myriad Gardens and the Crystal Bridge first opened. Now I am a parent, and my children and their imaginations are enchanted and educated by the same living wonder that is the Crystal Bridge. I say “the same” because the permanent installations are largely the same as they were 30-plus years ago in my childhood.

Chris Fleming | President of Community Board of Directors, Myriad Gardens Foundation

The planned improvements to update and upgrade the Crystal Bridge will reinforce the relevancy of Myriad Gardens for long into the future. This critical investment will ensure that the Crystal Bridge will continue to inspire and that its immersive environment will continue to teach. With your financial support, the wonders and lessons of the Crystal Bridge will endure for decades to come allowing people of all ages to enjoy this diverse oasis in the middle of our city. Together we can make it happen. Together the inspiration will live on.

Larry Nichols and Devon TIF Funds In 2011, Myriad Botanical Gardens completed a dramatic redesign of its outdoor spaces which has had a transformational effect not only to the Gardens but to downtown Oklahoma City as well. Thanks to the visionary leadership of Myriad Gardens Foundation Executive Board Chair Larry Nichols, Devon Energy Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds, along with additional funding from the City of Oklahoma City, made possible an impressive reimagining of the Gardens outdoor spaces. With an infusion of world class landscape architecture design and new facilities including The Park House Event Center, an outdoor Pavilion, new children’s garden, great lawn and bandshell, water features and more, the Gardens have become a beloved destination for residents and a delightful surprise to many visitors to downtown. As dramatic as this investment in the Gardens was then, your investment in the Conservatory now will be as dramatic and successful in making the Gardens an even better attraction and experience for visitors.

Supporting the Future Meinders Building and Maintenance Fund


renovation project of the magnitude underway for the interior spaces of the Crystal Bridge Conservatory requires not only the funds to design, build and complete it, but ongoing maintenance support when finished.

The foresight of longtime donors and philanthropists LaDonna and Herman Meinders led to the establishment of the Myriad Gardens Meinders Building and Maintenance Endowment Fund. Used for the long-term sustainability of all buildings and facilities, the fund provides ongoing funding to the Gardens. In addition to the endowment fund, the Meinders donated funds to transform a sloping hill on the north side of the Gardens into a beautiful space and venue – The Meinders Terrace – as well as to the installation and upkeep of Mo’s Carousel in the Children’s Garden. Their support extends to annual programming, such as Oklahoma Gardening School, and various special events throughout the year.

The renovation of a tropical plant conservatory requires a specialized team of engineers, designers, architects and horticulturalists. For this once-in-a-generation project, we have enlisted an exemplary group to fulfill our vision of creating a must-visit destination in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City.

A second-generation landscape artist, Scott Murase learned the craft of placemaking while collaborating alongside his father, Robert Murase, an internationally acclaimed landscape architect. His multi-disciplinary background in architecture, landscape architecture and sculpture combine to inspire his approach to site design. Using combinations of stone, water, wood and metal, Murase’s work is featured at the Devon Energy headquarters in downtown Oklahoma City, and in the Meinders Terrace at Myriad Botanical Gardens.

Meinders Terrace Garden, (LEFT) and Meinders Garden Walkway, designed by Murase Associates.

Gecko Group is an education interpretive design firm based in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Their awardwinning work in the heritage, tourism, museum, aquarium and zoo fields, helps destinations create user-friendly, authentic and meaningful visitor experiences. With more than 20 years of experience, Gecko Group specializes in branding, wayfinding and interpretive communication and is designing exhibits and the interpretive and educational signage in the Crystal Bridge Conservatory.

TOP: The Meadow Garden BOTTOM: New Heights Exhibit, Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA by Gecko Group

Located in downtown Oklahoma City, ADG has provided architectural, engineering, interior design, planning and program management services to owners, building users and communities throughout Oklahoma and in other parts of the United States since 1975. Among its many clients is the City of Oklahoma City and the City of Norman where ADG serves as program consultant for a host of community improvement projects. In 2018, the company was part of the team that redesigned the Visitor Center of the Conservatory and classroom spaces for John Rex Middle School at Myriad Botanical Gardens.

LEFT: South Lobby Entrance (interior) Crystal Bridge Conservatory RIGHT: South Lobby Entrance (exterior)

It is the vision of Myriad Botanical Gardens that its new gift shop will be a unique experience reflecting the contemporary aesthetic of the Conservatory, beginning with the entry lobby renovation and a store representing a teaching garden. The merchandise will be grouped in ways to reinforce narratives about plants, gardening, and conservation. As founder of Charles Sparks + Company, Charles Sparks has more than 38 years of experience in designing for some of the most recognized names in retail and cultural institutions. He has designed for a diverse range of businesses and believes both that good design is good business and that trend is not our destiny.

LEFT: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Museum Store, Kansas City, MO

MIDDLE: Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex Store, Cape Canaveral, FL

RIGHT: The Barnes Foundation Museum Shop, Philadelphia, PA

S P R ING 2020 Design Team Selected M AY 2021 Plants Prepared For Move to OSU-OKC Greenhouses Epic Plant Sale (Thousands of plants from the Crystal Bridge were sold to the public) J UNE 2021 Construction Began A PR IL 2022 New Infrastructure Construction Complete M AY – SEP T E M B E R 2 0 22 New Plants Installed Interpretive Elements Installed S EPTEMB E R 20 2 2 Gift Shop Soft Opening Tinker Federal Credit Union Entry Plaza Completed O CTOBER - N O V E M B E R 2 02 2 Grand Reopening of Inasmuch Foundation Crystal Bridge Conservatory

Cloud Portal Sculpture


With all new flooring materials and pathway layouts, the renovated first floor of the Conservatory will feature a reworked waterfall, a new reflecting pool and redesigned plant groupings to aid in the interpretation and understanding of the critical role of plants in the world.

T H E G A RDENS SHOP Visitors entering or leaving the Crystal Bridge will pass a new gift shop in the Visitor Lobby. The shop will offer merchandise curated to reflect the Gardens mission of horticultural education and conservation. The shop is designed by Charles Sparks, a noted retail designer whose award-winning work can be found in museum shops around the country.

A newly designed, two-level waterfall feature will greet visitors as they enter the Conservatory with sounds of water cascading over natural stone. Tropical water plants will be planted in the waterfall and in a small pool at the base. A new staircase will be built on the west side of the waterfall with a small lookout for visitors to enjoy the views as they walk up to the second level.

C L O UD P ORTAL SC U LP TUR E In contrast to the curving lines of the Conservatory, a striking vertical sculpture will be installed in the center of the main pathway to serve as a portal that divides the north and south ends of the space. Walking under it, visitors will experience beautifully framed views of the new waterfall at the south end and a reflecting pool at the north end. The Cloud Portal speaks to the upward growth of trees and plants and the misty atmosphere of a tropical rainforest especially seen at higher elevations. High pressure fog nozzles will create a fog of mist on the upper white spires of the sculpture. Inspired by Thorncrown Chapel in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, and Cloud Arbor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Cloud Portal is designed by Scott Murase. The sculpture will also display tropical flowers and foliage and serve as a place for seasonal displays, as well as for weddings and other special events.

R O OT WALL & R E FLECTIN G PO OL The Root Wall on the north end of the Conservatory serves both form and function. In vascular plants, roots are the organ that supply water and nutrients for plant growth. While we don’t always see them, roots anchor plants to the ground. Here, the artistic depiction of roots serves an aesthetic purpose as well, covering the concrete anchoring wall near the staircase leading to the second level. At the base of the Root Wall will be a Reflecting Pool to showcase exotic water lillies. This peaceful area offers places for visitors to pause and relax.



M ULTI-P URPOSE C L A S S R OOM & EL EVATOR The former north end lobby will be repurposed into a classroom space that can be adapted to a variety of educational programs and classes. A new elevator will improve the accessibility of the Conservatory for all visitors.

Telling the Plant Story Nate Tschaenn, Conservatory and Horticultural Exhibits Director, Myriad Botanical Gardens


ith this renovation comes the exciting opportunity to completely reimagine the planting plan of the Crystal Bridge Conservatory. While the current plantings are separated into desert plants on one end and tropical rainforest plants on the other, with tropical and subtropical plants on the main floor, the new plan will group plantings more thematically. A collection of fruit trees will be planted in one area, spices in another, and things like fragrant plants, medicinal plants, and plants that have special seed dispersal mechanisms, will be grouped throughout the Conservatory. These topic areas will allow for more concise, focused interpretation helping our visitors gain a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, our plant collections. Grouping plants and creating these topic areas in this way will also improve our guided tours and K-12 programs. The interpretation throughout the Conservatory will be completely redone with a family of signs sharing information on the topic areas and the individual plants themselves. Some of the signs will have tactile graphic images so that you can reach out and feel the shape of the plant’s fruit, seeds, flowers, or leaves. Other interactive interpretive exhibits will have fragrances, sounds, sculptures, or rotating graphics. A Discovery Room on the second level of the south end will feature stories of several plants and insects that have coevolved to form mutualistic relationships and depend on each other for survival. These stories will be shown through illustrated murals on the walls and models of the plants and insects with text and audio.

Tropical Scent Canisters Guests will be able to sample the many scents of tropical rainforest plants during their visit.

Interpretive signage takes a turn with new spin towers.


ean and David McLaughlin are long-time supporters of Myriad Botanical Gardens, with Jean serving on the foundation’s board of directors. Their passion for education and gardening is evident in how they serve the community and Gardens.

“David and I have been members of the marvelous Myriad Botanical Gardens for more than 30 years and have always believed this beautiful world-class garden is a true treasure in the center of our city,” remarked Jean. “Every time we visit the Gardens, it warms my heart to see a wonderful mix of folks enjoying the amazing variety of nature, walking the paths, celebrating special occasions, taking photos and especially watching children play in their very own garden. Many of us like to think of the Gardens as the ‘living room’ for the community.” When it came time to renovate Crystal Bridge Conservatory, Jean and David did not hesitate to step forward in support. Thanks to their generous $100,000 gift to the campaign, the Oculus Room on the second floor of the conservatory will be redesigned as a more beautiful space to enjoy views of the north side of the Gardens, changing artwork, and a place to relax. “Although it is sad to see the Crystal Bridge closed for now, we know it is time for a complete renovation to make the

32-year-old conservatory even more enchanting, accessible, educational and inviting,” Jean said. “As the centerpiece of the Gardens and often used as a lovely symbol of Oklahoma City, David and I are pleased to support this important project for the benefit of our city, all our residents and our many visitors.”

OCULUS GALLERY Visitors can take a rest and enjoy views of the north end of Myriad Botanical Gardens from this second floor gallery-like space featuring improved lighting and seating, rotating exhibits and ambient nature sounds.

At the north end of the Conservatory a new terrace will allow visitors dramatic views towards the waterfall and first floor plantings. This terrace provides a new space for visitors to sit and relax, as well as for education programs, exhibits, receptions, and private events. Below the terrace will be a reflecting pool on the first level, and an art panel depicting the intricacies of a root structure. Connecting the first floor with the second level terrace is a circular staircase near the reflecting pool. A new elevator will be located at the north entrance providing easy accessibility to this north terrace.

Kirkpatrick Family Fund

Renovation Adds to Downtown Vitality


or more than 30 years, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund has supported nonprofit organizations focused on a broad range of needs, including educational and environmental programs. They are longtime partners of Myriad Gardens Foundation, working to improve the quality of life for the Oklahoma City metro by supporting Gardens beautification projects. Since 2012, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund has donated more than $160,000 to the Gardens and most recently pledged $50,000 to the campaign for the purchase and installation of new plants as part of the Crystal Bridge Conservatory renovation.

“The Kirkpatrick Family Fund is interested in built environments that are beautiful, interesting and add significantly to the health and wellbeing of a community,” said Elizabeth Eickman, director of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund. “The thoughtful design of the grounds of Myriad Botanical Gardens provides visitors with a range of experiences from quiet contemplative spaces to activity-filled areas for families. The rejuvenation of the Crystal Bridge is a welcomed next step and will add in great measure to the vitality that the Gardens generate in downtown Oklahoma City.” Elizabeth Eickman, Director, Kirkpatrick Family Fund

Bromeliads are fascinating plants that have adapted to survive and thrive with a diversity of other plants, insects and animal species. This overlook area will be surrounded by a variety of bromeliad species and offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy the views while learning about plants. This terrace is on the south end of the Conservatory, adjacent to the new waterfall.

DISCOVERY ROOM Children will have the opportunity to learn about the connection between plants and the many animals and insects that support the rainforest ecosystem with a stop in the second floor, interactive Discovery Room. Rotating hands-on activities will also be offered throughout the year.

SENSORY SKYWALK Visitors will experience a symphony of sounds, tastes and smells on new extended platforms along the third level Skywalk. Each area will overlook the Conservatory and offer an educational interactive display focusing on the senses.


he South Entry Plaza fronting Reno Avenue is poised to be an even more important portal to theVisitor Center and Crystal Bridge Conservatory with Scissortail Park, Oklahoma City Convention Center and Omni Hotel just steps away. To create a more visible and attractive entryway to the Gardens, we have a redesign plan for this area from Murase and Associates landscape architects. Their plan creates a more inviting and shady site for visitors to enjoy. It will feature redesigned perennial garden beds, more shade trees and container plantings to add color and interest year-round. New bench seating, as well as moveable tables and chairs will offer ample opportunities to enjoy the native prairie flowers, garden views, and new flower beds. This South Entry renovation is made possible by a major gift from Tinker Federal Credit Union. “TFCU has had a long relationship with Myriad Botanical Gardens, having sponsored several events per year for many years,” said Kristy Viravong Portis, AVP and Community Engagement Manager for TFCU. “We love the family-friendly atmosphere that makes the Gardens a wonderful community gathering place. It will be an honor to have our name associated with the Gardens every day.” Left: View of Conservatory south entrance from Reno Avenue. Right: Yellow dots indicate locations of new trees, seating and bermed perrennial planting beds at the renovated south plaza entrance.

“An updated and more engaging Conservatory will strengthen the Gardens’ standing as one of the premier cultural attractions in Oklahoma City.” Maureen Heffernan, CEO, Myriad Botanical Gardens