Mercer Arboretum

October 2017   Houston, TX


  • Harris County Precinct 4
Key Points

A master plan that brings resilient design and educational play for visitors of all ages.

Resilient Design

The arboretum and trails had been closed due to damage incurred by Hurricane Harvey, and the master plan sought to incorporate green infrastructure into the facilities and create more topography that could retain rainwater and provide refuge through higher ground.

Educational Play

The project addressed the need for nature play to allow for people of all ages to observe and engage with nature. It created a mound for children to play on rather than installing a traditional playground, and it made the wetlands ecology an accessible tool for young visitors. A garden and demonstration kitchen provides an educational experience for visitors of all ages.

Community Volunteerism

The master plan sought to enhance accommodations for the volunteers and staff at the park. It enhanced the experience for volunteers and visitors to the garden and demonstration kitchen by calling for cafes and community gathering spaces, and also proposed a hotel and conference center as a result of community input.

Asakura Robinson was selected for a fast-paced competition to produce a master plan for Mercer Botanic Garden and Arboretum. The design process included on-site analysis and collaboration with major stakeholders and multiple presentations of the plan development and cost estimate. The plan in progress defines a thoughtfully connected series of 7 experiences, each uniquely celebrating the intersection of vital botanical research with dynamic floodplain ecology, by connecting people and plants through immersion, recreation and education.

Visitors to the site will enjoy public access to The Arboretum Ponds, Wild Arboretum and Farside Facility. These experiential ecological destinations boast recreationally oriented stormwater detention ponds, architecturally inspired picnic shelters, nature play and passive hiking areas, connections to the existing creekside bike and canoe trails, LID parking areas and a state of the art conference facility and public library, featuring green building strategies.

Visitors are also encouraged to explore the private amenity areas including The Old Oxbows, The Galleries,The Living Laboratory and the Botanic Promenades. These portions of the site feature a welcome center, culturally themed plant galleries, a tree canopy walk, moss cave, grand plaza with heritage trees, cactus mound, conservatory overlooking stormwater detention ponds integrated into the surrounding landscape, 3 cafes, botanic research facilities and meandering trails connecting to creekside outlooks.

Austin Corridor Studies July 2019   Austin, TX