2018 March POINT!



Myriad Botanical Gardens celebrates 30th anniversary

O n March 25, 1988, the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory at Myriad Botanical Gardens opened to the public, and since that time, Myriad Botanical Gardens has served as the heart of downtown Oklahoma City and a breath of fresh air for all Oklahoma City residents. The history of the gardens starts much earlier, however. This jewel of Oklahoma City was born during the downtown urban renewal project of the late 60s. While legendary architect I.M. Pei’s plan for Oklahoma City is the subject of controversy, Myriad Gardens was part of his plan that continues to reap benefits for Oklahoma City to this day. Dean A. McGee, an oil pioneer and founder and CEO of Kerr-McGee Oil Corporation, was a huge proponent of this project and kept the concept moving forward. In order to win public support for the idea of a centrally located garden, city leaders made a trip to Denmark to study the Tivoli Gardens for design inspiration. Still, the project caused division among city leaders and was not always supported by Oklahoma City residents. The vote to

approve the construction of the gardens was so close that one city council member had to return early from a European vacation to cast a vote. A nation-wide search was made for the architects that would design the Myriad Gardens, which was named after “the Myriad,” the building now known as the Cox Convention Center. In 1971, the New York architectural firm Conklin + Rossant was chosen, and city leaders broke ground on the 17-acre plot for the garden on Nov. 17, 1977. Unfortunately, construction was delayed as the oil bust of the 1970s and ‘80s diminished the project’s funding, and the area was constructed as money was available. In 1981, leaders formed the Myriad Gardens Foundation to raise private funds for the construction of the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory. Construction resumed from 1983-1985, but and the building finally opened to the public on March 25, 1988. More recently, Myriad Gardens and its Crystal Bridge received a facelift thanks to funds from the construction

of Devon Tower and Project 180. This $176-million redesign of downtown streets, sidewalks, parks and plazas included new landscaping, a new children’s garden, a new restaurant space, and reglazed acrylic panels on the Crystal Bridge. Today, Myriad Gardens hosts activities for all ages throughout the year, including free concerts, movies and performances. Myriad Gardens also serves as an educational outlet, with classes about gardening, cooking, art, reading, exercising and more for adults and kids alike. Myriad Botanical Gardens and the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Sunday, March 25, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with free admission to the Crystal Bridge. Learn about the gardens and its upcoming events at www.myriadgardens.org.



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