Cornell Botanic Gardens Peony & Perennial Garden Feasibility Study

Cornell University
Ithaca, NY

The Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences identified the need to expand their current botanic gardens surrounding the Nevin Welcome Center. The expansion of the garden for the future Peony & Perennial Garden will replace the former peony garden that was dismantled to accommodate construction for the Nevin Welcome Center. The Cornell Botanic Garden (circa 1930) is a botanical garden adjacent to the Cornell University campus, consisting of 25 acres of gardens and 150 acres of the F.R. Newman Arboretum.

EDR was retained to develop a concept design and feasibility study from multiple design professionals’ concepts to formulate a vision for the new garden. The new garden will showcase trees, herbaceous peonies, and other complimentary plants native to China, Japan, and Korea and will provide interpretive opportunities highlighting the importance of these plants in East Asian Culture, as well as include landscape and architectural elements inspired by East Asian traditions. The garden will offer increased opportunities for respite and education for the student population, guests, and tourists.

The site plan includes a garden closely associated with the center in the heart of the Botanic Gardens. Its primary entrance is from the center terrace. The garden comprises a series of curved, interconnected primary and secondary paths. These paths demarcate terraced garden beds, with considerations for rainwater harvesting included.

Associated with the garden an event lawn is sized to accommodate tents for events and catering. This space, together with the associated perimeter planting of trees, is approximately 0.3 acres. An open-air pavilion, with an axial relationship to the Mullstein Winter Garden, sits on the western edge of the event space. A curved pergola shading two rows of stone seat walls will mark the interface between the peony garden and the event space. A service drive will run along the east edge of the event space to a parking area providing vehicular access for gardeners tending the Herb and Young Flower Bed gardens to the north of the Winter Gardens.

The final concept design contained 14 different donor opportunities that included the design intent and construction estimates to aid in future funding options.