A year later, work continues on the Garden of Tomorrow at Norfolk Botanic Garden

A year later, work continues on the Garden of Tomorrow at Norfolk Botanic Garden

NORFOLK, Va. (WAFI) – It’s been almost a year since work began Tomorrow’s Garden At Norfolk Botanical Garden.

The more than $32 million project includes areas such as the Brock Entry Pavilion, Brock Parking Garden, Perry Conservatory and The Skywalk.

Much progress has been made since January 12, 2023, said Peter Schmidt, president and CEO of the Norfolk Botanic Garden.

“It was really transformative,” Schmidt said. “We’re back one year and we already have a piece of dirt. To me, it’s been amazing work by the team to get this far, and by the sponsors, donors and community to make it happen. We’re really impressed with the progress we’ve made.”

The structural framework for the 26,000-square-foot Perry Conservatory has been completed. It will have two larger biomes – desert and tropical – and two smaller desert biomes.

“It will house all of these endangered plants that we’re trying to save,” Schmidt said.

Take a look at the current structure as of January 2024 and future renderings of the project in the gallery below.

Perry Conservatory Picture Gallery

Developing the Perry Conservatory structure allows enough time for the team to prepare the site to eventually bring in the plants.

“Before we can do that, we have to make sure the climate is ideal for those plants,” Schmidt said. “Whether it’s the tropical biome again, think Hawaii, or if you’re talking more about the dessert biome, think Arizona.”

With this project, one of the parts that Norfolk Botanical Garden is looking forward to is the expansion of educational space.

“We’re already community partners with a number of high schools and colleges, but this takes it to the next level,” Schmidt said. “I think the fact that we’re getting this facility that has these unique plants and adding some additional educational elements, it’s going to have a real impact for us in the community.”

Ryan Cole, vice president of facilities and infrastructure at the Norfolk Botanical Garden, said crews completed the bistro’s underfloor plumbing. Now, they are laying concrete for the Brock Entry Pavilion and bistro area. Next, the steel frame and glass of the pavilion will be installed.

According to the Norfolk Botanic Garden, the Brock Entry Pavilion will enhance the visitor experience. It will contain a ticket office, retail space, a bistro and more.

“The bistro will allow us to highlight some of the great cuisine in the community,” Schmidt said.

Check out a preview of The Garden of Tomorrow project in the gallery below.

Brock Entry Pavilion photo gallery

Towards the end of 2024 and beginning of 2025, the Brock Parking Garden is expected to be constructed. The immersive design will bring visitors into the park environment as soon as they step out of their cars.

The nonprofit is still looking for donors for the project, and is looking to fill a $5 million gap.

Right now, the project is on track with its original timeline for a grand opening in the fall of 2025. While it may be ready before that date, the team is focused on making sure the plants are well established at the Perry Conservatory before it opens to the public.

“I know from our team’s perspective here at the Botanical Garden that everyone is very excited to open these doors, to really focus on our educational component,” Schmidt said. “And again, attract more people to the Norfolk community to see how great we are as a place to visit.”

For more information on the project and the latest construction updates, visit Gardenoftomorrow.org. The Norfolk Botanic Garden is a non-profit organization and accredited museum. It is open to visitors throughout the construction period. Visit norfolkbotanicalgarden.org For information about visiting, programs and more.

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