The new Visitor Center opened on June 14, 2014.
The building's design defers to nature, blurring the boundaries between architecture and the gardens, while creating spaces that allow the institution to meet its varied goals. The scope of improvements includes new construction, renovation and site work:
The centerpiece of the Garden improvements, the 8,500 square-foot visitor center will include an outdoor covered orientation space, gift shop, meeting space, offices and restrooms. Multi-purpose classrooms and meeting spaces are designed to meet the rising interest in education at the BBG and accommodate a wide range of programming.
Renovation of the Shorts House
Originally designed in the 1950s,the Shorts House will be slightly remodeled to serve the BBG's needs while retaining its intimate appeal. The 2,300-square-foot building will contain meeting rooms, a library and accessory spaces to the visitor center.
The new parking lot will double the BBG's current capacity and will provide safer access to the visitor center. Additionally, the BBG will undergo extensive landscape work and the development of outdoor circulation space. Existing gardens will be enhanced, and new gardens will be developed, including the Fernery, Spring Court and the Iris Rain Garden.
The Bellevue Botanical Garden Master Plan identifies new garden development to enhance visitor experience and access throughout the Garden. The Garden has an opportunity to move forward on long-term planning in part as a result of the 2008 Parks Levy, which provides support for this project. The Bellevue Botanical Garden Society (BBGS) has launched its Growing a Living Legacy campaign to raise $5 million in private funding toward the $11 million goal.
To date the campaign has secured 100 percent participation of the BBGS Board and has begun to receive funding from individuals in the community. Discussions are underway with a number of foundations and corporations that have provided past support for the Garden. As of Aug. 1, 2011, the BBGS has raised $1.5 million.