Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Green Building

Yesterday I walked around the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, southwest of Austin, Texas.  This is one of my all-time favorite places in the world, a beautiful melding of site, purpose, and building.

Built of local limestone with the galvanized metal roofs traditional for Texas ranch buildings, the Wildflower Center shows what kindly neighbors architecture and nature can be.  Buildings take advantage of the irregularly sloping site, existing trees and views, passive solar shading, and were some of the first public buildings to collect rainwater.  The collection system is pragmatic (green, back when green was just a color) but also playful - a rain-sculpture I've always wanted to see during a real gully-washer!  Climbing the cistern/tower is one of the joys of the design.  So is the beehive-dome room half way up; the masons get a plaque with their names and that plaque is deserved.

Between and around the buildings - which form an couple irregular plazas - are lovely gardens of native plants.  Great water-features!  In the central patio of limestone pavers (that remind me of San Antonio's La Villita) is a pool like a natural spring... one of the loveliest I've seen.  Tantalizing on a hot summer afternoon.

The center is a great source for information on native species (planted or wild), on xeriscaping (low-water gardening), and green-gardening.  Visit!

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