Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center

Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center

Collaborating to reclaim a natural landscape for education and conservation

Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center

Shaping interactive encounters with nature

How do you reclaim a 200-acre cypress-tupelo swamp and reimagine the former private property of Lutcher Stark as a center for hands-on conservation learning for people of all ages? fd2s partnered with an architect, an urban design firm, two landscape architects, and a commissioned artist to dramatically transform Shangri La after decades of being closed to the public. Pulling together three distinct projects on the site– the Nature Center, formal garden, and wayfinding throughout the facility– fd2s designed the visual identity and material scheme that flows throughout. fd2s also created an environmental graphics program to help visitors find their way through the gardens and developed a signage scheme to identify various buildings and exhibits and provide opportunities for learning.

  • Closed for nearly 50 years, the restoration of Shangri La is the crown jewel of Orange, Texas

Reclaiming nature to narrate its own story

In selecting native materials reclaimed from the landscape and elements that wear well in an outdoor environment, fd2s helped nature shine as the star of the show. Reinforcing the artistry of the natural world was a crucial theme in the development of the visual identity that wove throughout interactive elements in the park. fd2s worked with curved steel panels, millstones, and split cypress logs to deliver information and environmental context to the visitor. Additionally, fd2s designed custom waterjet-cut glyphs that highlight geometric motifs found in each garden vignette. The art-nature connection is further emphasized by a steel sculpture by a local artist and sandblasted quotes from landscape architect Jen Jensen.

  • “fd2s has been an indispensable partner on several occasions. The collaborative style in which they work enhances any project. The fd2s team digs deep to develop an understanding of the context and translate that into a story that delights the visitor. Their ability to distill complex ideas and pull together cohesive themes into a clear narrative is unparalleled.”
  • – Shannon Blakeman, partner at CARBO

Wayfinding that indulges the visitor’s curiosity

Collaborating with a team of architects, urban designers, and landscape architects, fd2s helped bring a progression and flow to the new built environment and re-imagined natural spaces of Shangri La. fd2s designed a wayfinding scheme that drew on that same natural aesthetic brought into the identity, helping visitors make their way through the cypress-tupelo swamp and the formal gardens and to park structures including an outdoor education center, classroom pavilions, Here We Grow! Garden, satellite buildings for more in-depth discovery, and bird viewing blinds.