It is not often that a natural disaster advances the sustainability agenda of a project, particularly when that disaster occurs during construction. However, this is exactly what happened when Hurricane Rita blew through Orange, Texas in September 2005. It occurred just as construction started on the restoration of the Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center on a 250 acre preserve called Adams Bayou. The design team, led by Lake|Flato Architects, had already incorporated the principles of reuse into the project by integrating the original greenhouses and materials from a deconstructed building into the new visitor’s center, classroom pavilions, and bird-viewing blinds. When Hurricane Rita destroyed more than 30,000 trees at the preserve, it was a natural extension of the team’s ethos to salvage this wood and use it for framing lumber, benches, furniture, and a boardwalk. The team also used sinker cypress from Louisiana for siding and fencing, and reclaimed brick from a 1910 warehouse in Arkansas. When it opened March 2008, the Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Visitor Center was the first Platinum LEED–NC building along the Gulf Coast.
Reclaimed Materials (by application): Concrete/Masonry, Furnishings, Wood/Lumber
Location: Orange, TX
Date of Completion: 2008
Architect: Lake|Flato Architects
Client: The Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation
Contractor: Beck Group