Stripe, Spiral, Branching and Circle Rooms

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Client: Nelda C. and H. J. Lutcher Stark Foundation

Location: Orange, TX, United States

Completion date: 2008

Project Team

Artist

Linda Covit

Linda Covit

Fabricator

Michel Bernier, Fabricator

Michel Bernier

Structural Engineers

Nicolet, Chartrand, Knoll Ltéé

Nicolet, Chartrand, Knoll Ltée

Landscape Architect

Jeffrey Carbo, FASLA

Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects

Art Consultant

Lake Douglas

ArtsPlan/New Orleans

Structural Engineers

Gaylord O'Con

GroupStructural Engineers

Overview

The 252-acre Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center includes historic and contemporary gardens, boardwalks over wetlands, a bird blind, boating excursions and outdoor classrooms. The competition brief called for four sculptural installations for four garden rooms. Locations were identified in each room and the installations were to represent a design form found in nature : circle, stripe, spiral, branching.

Goals

The Center's predominant aim is the exploration of each person's role in the stewardship of nature; it serves primarily as an education facility for local residents as well as visiting tourists. This objective, and the specific planting schemes planned for each room inspired the sculptural concept. After studying the plans I decided to propose a different way of integrating the sculptures. Rather than have each sited in the designated spot I looked at the whole room as a sculptural installation. Each sculptural component is designed to engage both their gardens and visitors, offering a unique experience of space and place. A drawing of a plant detail, cut out of two layers of stainless steel plate, references one of the plants within its room. Benches and screens complete the work, the latter offering students a canvas on which to attach related natural materials in creative ways. As an introduction to collective artwork projects, the installations can teach inventive ways of recycling and an understanding of and respect for nature.

Process

Working in close collaboration with the Louisiana firm Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects, the site responsive sculptural installations were developed and incorporated into the four garden rooms, resulting in a seamless integration of art and nature. As with all my public art projects, technical drawings were made and approved by engineers, and I was frequently at Michel Bernier’s studio for each phase of the fabrication.

Additional Information

Opened to the public in spring 2008, the Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center is certified LEED Platinum. Shangri La received an ASLA National Honor Award in 2012, as well as several other awards and honors.