Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Illustrative rendered aerial showing the proposed landscapes of HANC
Courtesy of Design Workshop.
Houston, Texas
Client: Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

In 2011 a summer drought devastated landscapes all across Texas. The ensuing redevelopment effort for the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center (HANC) led by Design Workshop aimed to create and support a healthy, natural, sustainable, and educational environment. The Master Plan intended to develop a unified vision for the Arboretum’s future guided by its mission statement, which is “to provide education about the natural environment to people of all ages and to protect and enhance the Arboretum as a sanctuary for native plants and animals.”

With the Master Plan’s proposed shift towards landscape types aimed at resiliency and the mission to enhance the educational opportunities of the Arboretum’s programming, ETM Associates provided analysis and recommendation for the following:

  • Maintenance required by the new landscape types and the Arboretum’s ability to provide it
  • Maintenance staffing needs and facility recommendations
  • Greenhouse needs
  • Additional revenue sources to address financial shortfalls
  • Potential revenue sources that could be integrated with the design
  • Improvement of existing programs

In tandem with this research, ETM studied other arboreta and nature centers and developed a set of guidelines for both the design and operation of HANC. The framework for operations included making the arboretum a more attractive venue for rentals and weddings, and offering more programs and member benefits in order to remain competitive in the nearby market.

Sustaining annual operating budgets was extremely important to ETM’s work. Identifying new sources of revenue was critical to HANC’s ongoing success. ETM looked at a wide range of options from fee-based programming, food and beverage, weddings, and parking. Ultimately HANC selected a number of appropriate revenue sources to meet annual operating costs.