A key component in Oklahoma City’s Project 180 public works program, the renovation of Myriad Botanical Gardens has transformed 15 quiet, underutilized acres of open space into a highly programmed urban park and the center of downtown public life. Two decades after its original opening, the park’s Crystal Bridge conservatory, lake and gardens were popular for portrait photography; but limited accessibility, a lack of programming and a public perception that the garden was unsafe discouraged repeat visits. The Office of James Burnett worked with a broad coalition of public and private stakeholders to re-envision the park as a vibrant and iconic setting for the city’s civic and cultural events.
The framework of the park evolved to preserve over 300 high-value specimen trees and to direct on-site stormwater to the renovated central lake, where it supplements irrigation. Permeable and inviting along its edges, the garden draws visitors onto a tree-lined promenade that loops through botanical plantings around the lake’s upper rim. Quiet, shaded berms to the northwest overlook the 28,000 SF Great Lawn and a sculptural bandshell by Gensler’s David Epstein; along Hudson Avenue to the west, a grove of sycamores trees buffers the street while providing flexible garden space to support Oklahoma City’s annual Festival of the Arts. To the south, an interactive water feature marks the entry to a children’s garden that balances active play with natural learning. A dog park, a fountain plaza, and a restaurant with outdoor dining enliven the eastern portion of the site.
Extensive programming by the Myriad Garden Foundation utilizes the park’s garden rooms year-round for concerts and plays, weddings and galas, sports and fitness events. Since its 2011 re-opening, the park has welcomed more than a million visitors annually and catalyzed downtown economic development, earning it a 2015 ULI Urban Open Space Award.