Art Garden Master Plan
In late 2013, the Wichita Art Museum's Board of Trustees initiated the ambitious project of an Art Garden to wholly reimagine and reinvent the museum grounds.
Roughly nine acres of lawn, trees, and plantings surround the building, designed in 1977 by nationally renowned architect Edward Larrabee Barnes and expanded in 2003 by inspiring Wichita architect Sam Frey. The building is architecturally impressive, and the grounds have been adequate, but that will change over the course of the coming months.
The design team--headed by the landscape architecture and urban planning design firm Confluence with the nationally regarded team members, public artist Vicki Skuri and lighting designer Derek Porter--was selected in late February 2014.
Confluence has offices in Kansas City, Des Moines, and Minneapolis. Previous clients include Des Moines Art Center, University of Iowa, Kansas City Zoo, and numerous city and county parks.
Through a collaborative design process through spring and summer, a plan emerged and a new welcoming place for art, nature, and community interaction has evolved.
Key elements of the Art Garden project have been clear from the beginning, and they include.
- create a continuous landscape for art—a roofless museum—that surrounds and complements the building
- offer spaces for peaceful retreat and animated activity—both that optimize reflection of art and nature
- create a special zone of art and nature through design excellence
- offer a series of garden areas that reflect archetypal landscapes of Kansas
- consider the "curb appeal" to the river and downtown for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians
- embrace best practices for xeriscape design and landscape sustainability