The environmentally friendly and sustainably designed, innovative and award winning Visitor Center opened to the public in 2005. Designed by William McDonough + Partners of Charlottesville, Virginia and Barnett and Bagley Architects of Lexington, it was conceived as a “building like a tree” with pergolas, arbors and a living roof, along with other design features that reflect the ecology of Kentucky, created to connect to its sense of place. It has received numerous awards and was the first building in Kentucky and surrounding five-state region to be designated LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council’s prestigious certification program.
Originally built as the Nature Center, this multi-functional building is sited on the old Jones Farm property. Silos from the original farm still stand near by. Today it houses administrative offices, the Wildlife Viewing Room as well as remaining a well-used venue for educational and cultural displays and rental space. It is open year round from 9-5 PM. The adjunct gardens include shade and sun gardens and the Kingfisher Pond.
Designed by the Louisville firm of Nevin and Morgan in 1961, the Garden Pavilion is a six-sided redwood structure located on Lake Nevin and reflects a mid-century modern style. It is surrounded by a vine-covered pergola, which cools the building in the summer. The building and surrounding garden design is based on the center of the clematis stem. The Garden Pavilion is available year round for weddings, meetings and gatherings.
In the mid 1960’s the surrounding gardens adjacent to the Quiet Garden were developed by the landscape architecture firm Miller, Wihry and Brooks of Louisville. The gardens were recently updated to reflect current Bernheim Select ™ perennials as well as old garden favorites and include examples of cutting, shade and butterfly gardens.
The Research Center opened in 2004, providing office space and research facilities for horticulture and forest management. Global climate change, surveys of biological diversity, bird migration, insects, amphibians, small mammals, grasslands, water quality and invasive species as well as stream restoration are currently being studied here and throughout the natural areas and arboretum. The cultivation of selected perennials and tree species occur in the greenhouses and nursery.
The Grigsby Shelter for Intergenerational Play
Located in the Children’s Play Garden, three structures supporting living roofs provide seating, shelter and shade. Their contemporary design incorporates columns made from fallen trees found within the forest. The American Fuji Seal pavilions nearby surround a beautiful rain garden or bio-swale.