“Deborah Nevins and her team did a great job making this space feel like a park. The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza is essentially a green roof!” —Bart Brechter
Bart Brechter, head of gardens and landscape operations, is working with the New York team from Deborah Nevins & Associates in planting the new greenspace outside the Glassell School of Art in The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza. Highlights of the space include unique details in the paving, resilient jasmine washing over the grounds, and water features that bring the cool during hot Houston summers.
The planting process took flight—literally—in February after an unusually harsh Texas winter. Mexican sycamore trees were craned into place on the plaza, creating a bosque, or gallery of trees, at the center of the space. This species of tree is fast and large-growing, adapting easily to the dry and rocky Texas soil. Also planted was Asian jasmine, a familiar plant spotted surrounding many of the Museum’s buildings. This species of jasmine is known for being a sturdy ground cover, ideal for unpredictable Houston weather patterns.
Asian jasmine ready to be planted in The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza
“The mounds of jasmine break up the flat surface of the plaza, creating a contrast,” said Brechter.
The Asian jasmine weaves around the plaza’s edge and wraps around the skylights—emerging from the building’s lower level below—and then up along the BBVA Roof Garden, which leads to the top of the Glassell School of Art.
“Deborah Nevins and her team did a great job making this space feel like a park,” Brechter added. “The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza is essentially a green roof!”
The landscaping team, including landscape architects Deborah Nevins (left, front) and Mario Benito (far right), works on craning in one of the Mexican sycamores in The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza in March 2018
The granite paving—which is made from the same type of granite used in the Isamu Noguchi–designed Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden—connects the two spaces, adding to the continuity of the entire Susan and Fayez S. Sarofim Campus. The existing sculpture garden has been restored with plants pruned, walls and walkways pressure-washed, and new crepe myrtle trees and grass planted.
Walking back toward the Glassell School of Art through the Mexican sycamore trees, visitors can enjoy an architectural fountain and a sculpture titled Song of Strength by Eduardo Chillida, which, after relocation from its longtime spot on the Museum’s South Lawn, sits across the plaza from Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Column.
Visitors can enjoy the outdoor spaces at The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza; and the BBVA Roof Garden for free, every day. Learn more.