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WALKING ON WATER: THE LOTUS BRIDGE AT LEWIS GINTER BOTANICAL GARDEN


The Lotus Bridge was designed as a “ribbon of light,” and spans the southern end of Sydnor Lake, connecting the Rose Garden with the crossroads between the Children’s Garden and the Grace Arents Garden.



(Photos: Frank Robinson)

REASONS FOR THE BRIDGE

To enhance the visitor experience and manage increased foot-traffic through the Garden. Previously, most visitors walked to popular destinations like Bloemendaal House and the Children’s Garden across a series of angled wooden bridges in the West Island Garden. These bridges were designed to allow visitors close-up views of the plantings in that garden. At some points these walkways narrow to only five-and-a-half feet, creating bottlenecks on busy days and pushing along visitors who might like to linger. The new bridge is 14 feet wide with a 12 foot walkway and creates a more direct path to favorite Garden areas.

Part of the Garden’s strategic plan to create signature gardens and “peaceful” areas. Because it diverts pass-through foot traffic, the new bridge will allow the West Island Garden to be developed into more of a signature garden featuring plants for people to enjoy at their leisure. It will also enable areas of the adjoining Flagler Garden to have quiet spots “off the beaten path.”


FACTS ABOUT THE BRIDGE

  • Length: Over 140 feet; Width: 14 feet
  • Designed to blend in with existing landscape. Has a slight “S” curve. Connects existing pathways: main walkway alongside Rose Garden to intersecting paths from Flagler Garden, Children’s Garden and Grace Arents Garden. Designers: Higgins & Gerstenmaier.
  • A flat bridge, it extends away from the Rose Garden level with the sidewalk leading into it; appears to be floating just above the lake.
  • Concrete pilings; concrete and steel “hollow core cast planks” hold the aggregate concrete surface (identical to surface of main walkway leading into it). Stainless steel posts hold up an extruded, rounded, painted aluminum handrail; handrail is 42 inches above bridge curb. Between the posts stretches a polished stainless steel “mesh” which forms the sides. The mesh has a grid pattern of small squares and rectangles (up to ¼” X ¼” openings) and can be seen through easily.
  • The choice to use a mesh design for the sides of the bridge was a very thoughtful and intentional one. While a bridge must be sturdy and made of durable materials, the Garden also wants guests to be able to visually interact with the water and water plants nearby. The idea is to have a boundary that does not look like a boundary. Woven stainless steel rods help accomplish this objective. The durable rods have a “visual” lightness and are arranged in a pattern evoking an “organic” look, such as woven cane. With its unique design, the bridge creates yet another wonderful way to experience Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.
  • Lighting is provided by energy savings, low-powered LED light bars installed into the underside of the handrail. The railings were designed by the RIchmond-based firm Tektonics Design Group.
  • Donor (and size of donation) anonymous at this point.

CONSTRUCTION