The Toronto Botanical Garden includes 12 contemporary-themed gardens spanning nearly four acres. Designed to inspire visitors to engage with nature, then go home and plant their own gardens, it also includes the newly renovated George and Kathy Dembroski Centre for Horticulture, an award-winning, LEED Silver building with an impressive 5,000-sq.-ft. glass-topped pavilion.
On a budget of $180,000, Adams + Associates Design Consultants was challenged to create an environmental graphics system that would be durable, live up to the Garden's lofty environmental goals, and unify site identification, interior and exterior pylons, donor recognition, garden identification, and directional signage and banners.
Site identification consists of painted aluminum poles with painted, waterjet-cut aluminum letters and leaf logos placed to evoke leaves sprouting from tall stalks. Primary identification signage for the new horticultural center is a 26-ft. long aluminum lightbox with incised white acrylic letters. Elegantly low-key exterior signs include slim aluminum pylons painted to look like sandblasted stainless steel and, in the case of didactic garden signs, sandblasted, break-formed stainless steel with back-screenprinted glass information panels and painted aluminum headers. Other exterior signs include aluminum pylons with changeable message cases.
Inside, a donor recognition element includes eight three-part panels recognizing major contributors. The top two portions of the panels are painted aluminum with screenprinted graphics, while the bottom one-third feature lush garden photography digitally output to the back side of acrylic. The Adams team also employed garden photography on a series of banners, keeping the promise of summer gardens alive during those cold Canadian winters.
"A lot of people don't believe that environmental graphics and the environment can work well together. This project is an example of interpretation design being consistently and elegantly applied across a four-acre botanical garden with care and sensitivity. It's a design solution without an ego and allows the plants to rule. While not groundbreaking, the quality materials and different textures work well together and create timelessness. The use of monoliths for conveying key information is clean and clear; we felt the project also deserves recognition for its completeness and quality of finish."
Debbie Adams (principal in charge), Sonia Gulia (tender drawings)
David Dennis (fabrication/industrial design advisor)
WSI Sign Systems Ltd.