Selby Botanical Gardens showcases its master site plan

Photo: ExpediaPhoto: Expedia

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens has unveiled its master site plan for the 15-acre property, which is currently estimated to cost $67 million to complete.

Back in September 2016, Selby Gardens issued a request for proposals and 14 firms responded. The botanical garden ended up selecting Philadelphia-based OLIN to reimagine the historical property.

Opened to the public in 1975, Marie Selby left her property to the community wishing for it to be used as a botanical garden. Originally only five acres, the institution grew over time by purchasing nearby property.

Selby Gardens is known for its research and conservation of epiphytes, plants that grow on other plants without harming them, such as orchids, bromeliads and ferns.

Located in Sarasota, Florida, Selby Gardens is the most species-rich botanical garden per acre in North America. It is second to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew with its collection of liquid preserved flowering plants.

It also has the third largest collection of preserved bromeliad plants and the fourth largest collection of preserved orchids in the U.S. More than 200,000 people visit the gardens on a yearly basis and over the past two years, Selby Gardens has seen a 36 percent increase in visitors.

Photo: OLINPhoto: OLIN

The master plan will expand the garden’s green space by 50 percent within its current footprint and secure its scientific collection from future sea level rise.

“While we’ve known Selby Gardens had to contend with its aging infrastructure for some time, Hurricane Irma validated the need to move ahead sooner rather than later with this plan,” said Jennifer O. Rominiecki, president and CEO of Selby Gardens.

The plan involves the removal of buildings that are decaying and not historically significant, along with the construction of a five-story parking garage complete with a rooftop restaurant.

The removal of buildings and consolidation of parking will allow OLIN to expand the garden and open space. More intuitive and circuitous routes throughout the property are also included in the master plan.

The parking garage will hold more than 450 cars and will showcase the plants that the Gardens study. Solar panels, rainwater harvesting and green roofs will be integrated into the parking garage. A rooftop garden will also be used to provide the restaurant with some of its produce.

A new welcome center, learning pavilion and a greenhouse designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane are all additional elements in the master plan.

“This plan upholds our past and also ensures Selby Gardens’ future, which has significant scientific importance,” Rominiecki said. “It also allows us to expand on Marie’s original gift to the community of an oasis of green space in the middle of downtown Sarasota, but envisioned at the highest level. We are proud to be able to continue her legacy.”

A construction timeline has not been established yet, but the plan will be executed in three phases over 10 years.

OLIN will be leading a team of experts in architecture, exhibit design and environmental design. Overland Partners, Kimley Horn, Metcalfe Architects, eDesign Dynamics, David Sacks Landscape Architecture and Creative Preservation are all a part of the team.

“Once implemented, the state of the art green technology will make Selby Gardens an international model for urban design planning,” Rominiecki said.

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