Georgeson Botanical Garden Designs Need Help

Call for Artist & Designers – Amateur or Professional

The Georgeson Botanical Garden Society (GBGS) and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) are happy to invite design proposals from any humans on the planet earth. Submitters need not be expert designers.

We are seeking design inspiration for four new additions to the Georgeson Botanical Gardens:

This new greenhouse will be used as a small production area as well as a showpiece example of unique, locally-sourced, off-grid construction.

We plan to build a new amphitheater that is more accessible to all users (including those in wheelchairs) and that fits into the flow of the Gardens overall.

The current approach,entry, and parking area of the Garden has developed piecemeal, as the Garden transitioned from a research-only facilty into a Botanical Garden over time. We aim to improve this space, making in more attractive, inviting, cohesive and informative.

We will be renovating and improving upon our Beistline Memorial Classroom, a space specifically designed to be used as an outdoor classroom area where gardening methods and more can be taught.

While we have a budget for the other four projects, we still want to invite anyone to submit their own completely unique idea. Anything goes


Click any image to open the lightbox. Note: These are high quality images to help inspire you, so the lightbox will take a few moments to load. You can save any of the images by right clicking them.

Considerations for Specific Project Designs

Garden Entry Area

Projected Budget: $5000-$10,000

The current approach/entry area to the Gardens has developed piecemeal, as the Gardens transitioned from a research-only facility into a Botanical Garden over time. The new design of the entry could accommodate one or more of the following elements. Your ideas may offer a design on only one part of one of these elements, or attempt to solve them all!:

  • A larger presence of the Gardens from Tanana Drive, including signage that encourages more visits.  The Gardens are  not currently easily visible from the road.  The entrance is easy to miss even if you know exactly where it is.  The sign for the Gardens is difficult to see from the road.
  • Clarification of traffic circulation, both for pedestrian, bikes, and vehicles. Add more parking, including overflow parking for large events.  Once a vehicle enters the garden area, little parking exists.  This is especially true when the Gardens host large events such as “Music in the Garden.” or when space is rented to a private event.  There is also conflict between pedestrians and vehicles.  No spots exist for bicycles.   (see attached map)
  • Re-imagine the entrance to encourage more exploration by visitors.  Provide clear direction on how to enter the Gardens.  Discourage visitors from entering garden beds near the entrance. The entrance to the Gardens lack definition and does not provide a clear direction for where visitors may enter.  This is a result of the original purpose of the garden where visitors would only wander to look at different experimental beds.  As the garden developed, little or no changes were made to the entrance to lead visitors to various garden spaces, features, and attractions.The trails and planting beds in this area could have better definition to direct users to the main kiosk only.
  • The trails and planting beds in this area could have better definition to direct users to the main kiosk only. The entry currently has multiple kiosks visible from the entrance that confuse visitors as to where garden information can be found.  Visitors often trample existing beds looking for more direction and information.
  • Be easily built using largely volunteer labor.

All design entries should consider the following

Seasons. The designs should consider garden use during spring, summer, and fall seasons.

Winter. It would be a big bonus if designs can plan for possible use during winter months, considering snow removal with shovels or blowers. It does not need to accommodate snowplows or truck snow removal. Entries should also consider snow loads on any proposed structures.

Maintenance. These new additions will be permanent and should be designed to last the life of the garden.  Please consider maintenance in regard to glass, metal, ceramic or multi-media features of your design.  The public may touch and interact with any of the designed elements and therefore should endure use.  Public safety is of great importance at this facility.

Accessibility. All new construction will be ADA compliant. Don’t worry too much about this element, just know that anything new that is built will need to accommodate all people. Your ideas do not need to convey this level of detail, but just keep it in mind. ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act ensures access for people with disabilities. For our purposes, what this means is generally common sense, but if you’re interested in a more detailed description, visit the ADA website.

Location. The location for each element can be part of your submission or can be decided by the judges at a later date.

Your design doesn’t need to include specific construction information or details. Any level of drawing or rendering that conveys your idea is welcome. It will be judged based on strength of idea and the ability to make it work with the existing Gardens character.


Projected Budget: $30,000

Georgeson Botanical Gardens currently has an amphitheater located in the NW corner of the gardens. The Gardens plan to use the existing amphitheater for quiet, small events, but would like a new amphitheater in a more central, accessible (including to those of limited mobility) location for more inclusive events., however it is not ADA accessible and doesn’t fit into the flow of the Gardens over Your submittal should reflect the following characteristics, elements, or themes:

  • Its location within the Garden should complement and tie into other spaces and elements of the Garden. A proposed location can be included in your submittal, or it can be located by the judges at a later date.
  • Emphasize the use of green, renewable, and/or locally available materials
  • The ability to construct the amphitheater and associated space with unskilled or volunteer labor
  • The space should provide seating for 25-35 adult people
  • Seating should creatively accommodate children as well
  • A central speaking area or “stage” should be provided for lecturers, presenters, etc.
  • The ability to provide protection from rain or wind within the space could be provided but is not necessary. If you don’t include this, keep future additions in mind.

Lee Risse Greenhouse

Projected Budget: $10,000 -$20,000

This new greenhouse will be used as a small production area as well as a showpiece example of unique, locally-sourced, off-grid construction.  The greenhouse should be approximately 12’ x 8’ x 8’, though no exact size is required to encourage different design ideas.

The key goal here is that it can be built by local homeowners, both in town and out.  As such it should:

  • Be made from local, or at the very least easily accessible materials (specialized assemblies not readily available in interior Alaska cannot be used). Materials from renewable sources are preferred, and again, locally sourced materials are a plus!
  • Be easily built by one or two people without necessarily having significant construction experience.  Any specialized equipment needed should be easy to rent, buy, and use.
  • Be completely “off-grid.” Though extra water may be brought in for irrigation, it should be designed assuming this is difficult and/or cost prohibitive.
  • Irrigation and drainage need to be accounted for (whether manual or automatic).
  • Incorporate ‘green’ technologies such as water collection, passive cooling and/or heating.
  • The greenhouse will be used during normal growing times, and need not provide a growing environment for our cold winters.

Garden Classroom Upgrade

Estimated Budget: $10,000

There is currently a classroom located in Ohlson Family Food Garden, featuring fruits, vegetables, pansies and willow trees.  The garden was made possible through an endowment from the Ohlsen Family and is dedicated to conducting research and educational programs in horticulture.  The current concrete foundation and gazebo covering houses rain barrels and picnic tables.  In addition, there is a lovely trellis along the partial brick wall to the back.

We are looking to upgrade it. Design ideas should:

  • Be made from easily accessible materials (specialized assemblies not available in interior Alaska cannot be used).  Local materials from renewable sources are a huge plus.
  • Be easily build by one or two inexperienced builders.  Any specialized equipment needed should be easy to rent and use.
  • Include youth and adult featuresConsider examples of themed areas: wildlife, edible, worms, composting
  • Consider examples of themed areas: wildlife, edible, worms, composting
  • Include features that are easy to set up and mobile to accommodate different types of classes, programs, day camps and workshops
  • The classrooms is currently used in the summer months, but winter options would be exciting to see.

Submission Guidelines and Timelines

Each submission should include:

  • A one paragraph Statement of interest, explaining what drew your interest to the project and a summary of your entry.
  • A short biography telling us who you are.
  • A conceptual drawing, sketch, rendering, or plan. Again, you don’t need to be the greatest artist or draftsperson in the world. Just have fun and get the idea across as best you can.

Submissions that make it to the finalist level will be made public, and should you win, we may ask you for more information for publicity purposes and winner recognition.

All submission materials should be sent in PDF format to

By | 2017-07-07T06:17:46+00:00 February 5th, 2017|