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  • Writer's pictureWomen+ in Design PGH

Botanic Gardens Hike + Hot Cocoa

Women+ in Design PGH finished off the 2021 networking events at the Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens. Despite the dreary weather on November 14th, our group was determined to have one more chance to be together and be inspired. This event did not disappoint. In fact, it was so interesting that we will host a follow-up event in the Spring!

ABOUT THE GARDENS: “The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden was founded in 1988 by horticulturists who envisioned a world-class outdoor garden for the Pittsburgh area. The journey to date has had many unexpected turns, but the community commitment to make the garden a reality has been unwavering. Their mission is to inspire people to value plants, garden design and the natural world by cultivating plant collections of the Allegheny Plateau and temperate regions, creating display gardens, conducting educational programs, and conserving the environment. The site sits on 460 acres of woodlands and gardens in Oakdale on land that was restored after decades of intensive damage from the coal mining industry. Since 2005, the organization’s staff and volunteers have planted 10,000 saplings and constructed three passive filter systems to clean up acid mine drainage. The system now cleans 25 million gallons before it reaches the area’s watershed.”- Source Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens Website

The Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens officially opened its doors to the public in 2014. We were privileged to have Peggy, the owner’s rep, and Missy Marshall, Principal for Pashek + MTR to lead us through the history of the project. Both were involved in various parts of the development of the campus including the original master plan for the gardens, and the new visitor’s center. Missy informed us about the history of the land, the intentions for the natural landscapes and native plants, the old and new structures that have been either renovated or newly built, and the pathways of discovery throughout the site.

The next phase of the Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens was their new visitors center which opened in April 2021. The center includes a Woodland Room for events, a Café, educational classrooms, outdoor terraces, and educational gardens. It was designed by Overland Partners (Texas) in partnership with local Pittsburgh Architecture firm 4080 Architecture. “The center will educate and inspire visitors by cultivating a sense of adventure, exploration, and appreciation of native plant ecology and promote human health and well-being through the design of healthy indoor environments that integrates daylighting, views, natural ventilation, and low-VOC materials.” Pashek + MTR was once again called upon for the next phase of exterior landscape and site design. Joining us to talk about this phase was Kara Roggenkamp - RLA, SITES AP – Principal, Pashek + MTR. Kara led us on a tour of the gardens and their newest exhibit entitled “Carbon Cycle – An Earth Art Exhibit” Here is a link to the video about this very cool new addition.

The last leg of our tour found us winding through the upper trails to the Learning Pavilion where architect Lori Fitzgerald, then of Margittai Architects, presented the building to our intrepid crowd as snow started to fall. The building was designed in partnership with Terra Design Studio Landscape Architects and is intended for use as an educational and gathering space to support the Botanic Gardens’ educational programming. Lori also toured us over to the Bayer Barn, the newly converted events space and gardens. Margittai likewise designed this building, restoring and retaining the original charm of the 1870s barn and modernizing it for a new era.

With so much more to discover at the Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens, the group unanimously decided that we should have a follow-up event when the weather is nice, and the gardens are in full bloom. The overwhelming kindness and hospitality from the Botanical Garden staff showed was the light on a very grey day. They allowed us to use one of their classrooms to heat our kettles for the much needed hot cocoa upon completion of our chilly outdoor hike, allowed us to gather as long as needed to appreciate the building, the gift shop, and the seasonally inspired art & glass exhibit from the Pittsburgh Glass Center. The most wonderful thing about nature is it is always changing with every season and visiting these gardens is one of the true gems of the Pittsburgh area.

THANK YOU to all the members who braved the cold wet weather to join us, you are total troopers! As always, the planning team welcomes your thoughts, feedback, for future sessions, and continued participation. We look forward to planning new and exciting gatherings for 2022…

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