Botanical Garden Master Plan

Plan showing the naturalistic design strategy.

Plan showing the naturalistic design strategy

The North Tonawanda Botanical Gardens is an 11-acre site located on 1825 Sweeney Street in North Tonawanda, NY, bordering the Niagara River. The site is overseen by the North Tonawanda Botanical Gardens Organization (NTBGO), a nonprofit working towards restoring the garden to a scenic destination for community education and activity. Three members of the NTBGO, David Conti, Robbyn Drake and Laura Pecoraro, gave students the opportunity to design a proposal for the renovation and re-imagination of the North Tonawanda Botanical Gardens.



Anya Batista, Deron Charley, Bethany Greenway, Smanatha Kalinski, Joey Privitera, Edinam Segbafia, Cody Stern



ARC 406/489
Summer 2020


BAED, BS Arch, MArch

The site features a north and south green space, separated by a parking lot, with docks for boat and kayak launches. The shoreline of the Niagara River runs along the entire east side of the site. A building located on the northern end of the site featuring native plans serves as an educational hub for the community. 

The studio’s first step was to set goals that embody the client’s vision for the future of the site. One of the most important facets of the site is its value as an educational resource. As such, students set out to design a framework to enhance educational opportunities through interaction with native plants, sustainable gardening and water-wise practices. This goal is furthered by the project’s proposal for an easily accessible and circulative path system to navigate the site. One of the most important project goals was to preserve the natural wildlife through shoreline and wetlands restoration and, in turn, support public awareness of the region’s natural habitats. A final goal was to draw visitation across the site through a range of experiences distinctive to the area. Ultimately, the studio’s proposal for an integrated network of paths, gardens and waterways aims to transform The North Tonawanda Botanical Gardens into an iconic regional destination that promotes education, sustainability and the values of the community.  

Students conceptualized the site in two different ways, organically and formally. The organic process began with a topographic study of the site. Using the natural formation of land, students designed curvilinear paths and spaces and a softened shoreline with natural wetlands that organically communicate with their surroundings. The formal process was more rigid and grid-like, featuring orthogonal circulation through the site and an artificial wetland system.

The main goal of the proposal was to reinforce an organic atmosphere throughout the site. Every decision was intended to highlight and emphasize the importance of natural processes and sustainability.

Students informed their design of the site’s wetlands with research on wetland and shoreline restoration in similar climates. The topographic study of the site shaped the final form of the proposed wetlands. The pavilion is designed to correspond with the site’s topography, keeping with the organic concept. Another uniquely shaped area is the parking lot, which is designed in a curvilinear form to give vehicles ample space to use the boat launch. Different materials are used throughout the site, including stones, permeable paving and wood. The play area was designed using natural materials found on the site, such as timber, rocks, and sand.