Mercer Announces Winning Design for Butterfly Sanctuary

Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Eversole is excited to announce the winning design for a butterfly sanctuary at Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens. Through a design competition among landscape architecture students from Texas A&M University, seven teams presented designs to a panel of judges on December 8, 2010 at Mercer.

Due to destruction caused by Hurricane Ike in 2008, a section of Mercer was cleared of pine trees leaving an open area perfect for a new butterfly sanctuary and garden. The new feature is a partnership project between Precinct 4 and The Mercer Society (TMS) that will include host and nectar plants for butterflies and moths, and serve as a tool to educate visitors about their life cycles. TMS is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports Mercer, and the organization provided the $10,000 in prize money and will fund $100,000 in construction costs.

Students from five universities were invited to design a butterfly sanctuary based on an open-air design; elevated viewing decks and interactive amenities; a sustainable habitat for butterflies during all stages of development; an interpretive area for the public to learn about maintaining butterfly populations; and eligibility for certification by the North American Butterfly Association (NABA).

Nineteen entrants, who were advised by professors Nancy Volkman and Zhifang Wang, formed the seven participating teams from Texas A&M’s Department of Landscape Architecture. Finalists were selected based on creativity and realistic design elements.

“It was amazing to see the imagination and hard work each of these students put into their designs,” said Commissioner Eversole.

Kyle Pennington and Ashley Timmerman of Team “Discovery” created the first place winning design. The team members were awarded $4,000 to share and another $4,000 for the Landscape Architecture Department at Texas A&M.

The second place design, created by Kristina Baldridge, Jenny Berg, and Brian Frederick, and the third place design, created by Emmanuel Lopez, Geraldo Oliverez, and Caleb Paulson, each won $500 for the team members to share and an additional $500 for the Landscape Architecture Department at Texas A&M.

“It’s so exciting that the process of getting a butterfly sanctuary at Mercer has begun,” offered Commissioner Eversole.

During the first six months of 2011, design modifications and construction drawings will be created for the Butterfly Sanctuary project. The bid process for general construction and artistic vendors will take place during the summer of 2011, and landscape construction will begin with the groundbreaking in the fall of 2011. Completion of Mercer’s Butterfly Sanctuary is expected by September 2012.

Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens is a 325-acre educational and horticultural facility located along the banks of Cypress Creek in north Harris County. Mercer is enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year, which features 20 acres of cultivated gardens, an extensive trail system, a picnic area, a playground, and much more.

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