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Franklin Park Conservatory Getting Major Update

Walker Evans Walker Evans Franklin Park Conservatory Getting Major UpdateRendering by DesignGroup.
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The Franklin Park Conservatory is getting a major facelift this year, and construction is already under way. Executive Director Bruce Harkey presented an update to stakeholders at an annual meeting this evening, providing new details on the project.

“When you think about the entrance to the building, it’s not the most welcoming entrance,” said Harkey during an interview with Columbus Underground yesterday. “It’s more of a side door, and no one greets you. So the idea with this new entrance is to create a more inviting and welcoming experience for visitors.”

Guests entering the building through a new central set of doors will find a relocated guest services area front and center in the lower level. After purchasing tickets or showing membership for the Conservatory, visitors can use stairs or elevators to access the renovated upstairs atrium and begin exploring the full venue.

“The atrium was built in nineties, and the design was clunky from a functional standpoint,” explained Harkey. “We’ve really cleaned it up with the slate floor being stripped down, and the ceilings now reaching 14 feet high. It creates a much larger welcoming space, with a focus on unique horticulture.”

Harkey pointed out two other major features of the renovation project: an indoor two-story green wall, and a second-floor outdoor balcony where guests can take in views of the eastern side of Franklin Park.

The renovation project has been a collaborative effort with building design work by Michael Bongiorno at DesignGroup, and landscape architecture by Karen McCoy with MKSK.

“It’s been great working with Michael because of his creativity and practicality,” said Harkey. “As an architect, he can strike a balance between creating a unique vision that is also balanced with financial realities. This is going to be a really amazing visual experience with a relatively modest investment.”

The entrance renovations are just one project in a series of updates that were originally outlined in 2013 when the Franklin Park Conservatory updated its master plan. Another recently completed project is The Wells Barn, which opened last fall, and focuses on community outreach, education and special events. The next project is a new children’s garden that will be located on the grounds just north of the main Conservatory building.

“We all know how kids don’t go outside as much as they should these days with so much technology at their disposal,” said Harkey. “So children’s gardens are vey important from a health and creativity and socialization viewpoint. We’ve hired Cindy Tyler with Terra Design Group for that project, and she’ll be presenting her concepts at the end of May.”

Construction of the new entrance to the Franklin Park Conservatory is expected to be completed around the end of September, with a dedication event planned for early October. The facility will remain open to the public throughout the entire construction process with normal operating hours.

For more information, visit www.fpconservatory.org.

Rendering by DesignGroup. Photos by Walker Evans.

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