Sunday, July 16, 2017

The kid's museum with a grown-up landscape

The DoSeum, a kid's museum in San Antonio, opened in June 2015 and the landscape has been catching my eye ever since.  For the last two years I've passed this landscape on Broadway just north of downtown and intended to stop.  A few weeks ago I did just that.  This may be a children's museum but the landscape is fun for grown-ups too.

Impossible to miss a bright red wall along Broadway, a major north-south artery connecting downtown with close-in suburbs.  San Antonio's Lake|Flato Architects, the museum's designer, and Austin's Ten Eyck Landscape Architecture collaborated on the project.  The two firms have worked together on several local sites recently and the results are always excellent.  See my post on landscapes at The Pearl here.


A block-long striking red wall (bright as it looks) gets attention on busy Broadway which also serves as the gateway to our Museum District and the Pearl Brewery mixed-use redevelopment area.  Gabions filled with aqua glass cool that hot red wall color.  Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) sits on a filled slope behind the wall.  Spots of bright red color show through softening trees.


Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) softens sidewalk edges and should be spectacular in full cotton-candy mode during fall bloom.  I'll try to return to see how all the fluffy pink works with the red wall.


The bus stops here.  Our Via bus system has a museum route plus a Trolley for visitors.  Mexican Olive trees and a bright yellow Esperanza are there to greet you.  Imagine that wall as seen from the bus.  I'd ride out from town to see this.



Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' looks best against a bright, solid background.


A peek inside the gabion revealed the center is filled with rubble rock but there still seems to be plenty of shine on all sides.  Four-nerve daisy  (Tetraneurus scaposa) is thriving in a west-facing location.


A curving hillside seems the perfect location for gabions.  Matching aqua recycled glass granules pressed into concrete at intervals repeat the color and a mix of textures make this a decidedly not boring sidewalk.


A few of the grasses are struggling on the slope.  Still looks good with dots of gold lantana.  I'd follow the aqua spiral up the hill but it's getting hot out here!


We'll turn to the cooling welcome of the museum entrance and the "place-based" design of Lake|Flato which draws inspiration from traditional buildings of South Texas.  With this approach, even the firm's earliest projects (now at 30 years) don't seem outdated.  Hesperaloe parviflora 'Brakelights' punching in more red accents brought over from the streetside wall.


Thoughtful architecture includes a walkway for families to safely navigate the parking lot.



Stroller and wheelchair-friendly access with shade sails to help beat the Texas heat.  Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) in raised planters with softening effects of Mexican Feather Grass and Salvia greggii alongside.


Back the other way, planning ahead for our inevitable deluges.


This is how it's done.  One of my favorite things about Christy Ten Eyck projects is most of these plants are already in my landscape or readily available at local nurseries and are a main reason for stopping: plant massing, repeating colors, varying textures--all good ideas to consider.


We won't have to wait long for Ten Eyck's next project which is expected to open just around the corner at the San Antonio Botanical Garden in October.  Looking forward to seeing what she does to follow this wonderful DoSeum effort.

16 comments:

  1. I was just looking at a map of San Antonio and wondering what the DoSeum was! I love every Lake/Flato-Ten Eyck collaboration I've seen. Maybe I can check out the botanical garden again soon. It's been forever since I've seen it.

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    1. Glad I could help you out with a little more detail on that. The two firms are a great team. The expansion at SABOT should be open in October, until then there's a lot of construction.

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  2. Your making making me miss San Antonio even more.

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    1. SA has a way of doing that.

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  3. I've never been to San Antonio, but this looks like a not to be missed spot! Next Fling in Austin I will make time for SA!

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    1. After reading Jean's comment I was thinking of seeing if there was interest in an extra day. It's not far and there's plenty to see. We'd need to carpool and I think the Austin bloggers might fall over if I proposed such a thing!

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  4. It's very well done. How I wish my 'Blonde Ambition' looked that good! I've never seen tumbled glass used in a gabion well before but I REALLY like it.

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    1. Mine doesn't look that great either. The gabion wall is the type of thing architects can find that the rest of us never see.

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  5. I do like the Blonde Ambition grama against the red wall. And gosh, can you imagine what all that slag glass cost, even with rubble in the center?

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    1. Even in bulk it would have to be expensive. I didn't look up the cost of this museum, might be an eye opener.

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  6. The glass in the gabion is just beautiful...and expensive. I love the cool blue with the red wall. All the plantings seem so appropriate and like they belong. So often it doesn't work out this way. I haven't been to San Antonio in years. Next time we go we'll need to check out both the Children's Museum and the Botanical garden.

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    1. We have some beautiful spots to visit, more fun in October than August.

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  7. Of course I love the glass-filled gabion and glass inclusions in the sidewalk. So nice that Christy Ten Eyck chose plants that are well-suited to the climate, space, and are readily available. You live in a land of extremes: either burning hot or pouring rain but your gardens look splendid nonetheless. Amazing what plants and gardeners can do.

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    1. Sometimes it's not fun trying to figure out what plants work by killing them. I often turn to commercial landscapes like this to learn more.

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  8. That is refreshing against Capetonians whining - my garden is brown dead drought water restrictions.
    Right plant in the right place is so much more exciting that battling to keep a lawn green no matter what.

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    1. We are so accustomed to lawn-free gardens now that I didn't even think to mention it. The gabions and red wall would be far less interesting with turf grass at their feet anyway.

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