Green Building Showcase 2020

Listen to a recording of this event.

Presented in partnership with American Planning Association (APA) – St. Louis Metro.

Explore the designs and sustainable attributes of three projects underway in the St. Louis area: Missouri Botanical Garden’s Jack C. Taylor Visitors Center, Forest Park Forever Nature Playscape and the Forest Park Waterways project.

Jack C. Taylor Center

The Jack C. Taylor Center is a new visitor center for the Missouri Botanical Garden. This two-level structure, on track to obtain LEED V4.1 Gold Certification, is slated for completion in 2022. It will be the new “Gateway to the Garden,” featuring expanded landscaping areas that will immerse the guest in the diverse plantings of the Garden from their first steps on the grounds and support the Garden’s mission “To discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life.”

Highlights include:

  • In the new grand lobby, ticketing and membership services will be streamlined.  
  • A large multifunction space and meetings rooms will expand the Garden’s ability to serve the community and serve as the host site for private films, events, conferences and educational sessions all year long. 
  • New dining options will include a grab-and-go location, as well as a sit-down café that will have expansive views into the Garden.  
  • On the south side, an attached glass conservatory will provide space for year round plantings and special shows and events. 

The Nature Playscape

The Nature Playscape is located in the heart of Forest Park, between the World’s Fair Pavilion and the Jewel Box. It is being created for current and future generations of St. Louis youth and their families. It has been designed to feature eight activity areas, including Mounds, Spring, Meadow, a Wetland and more that are located across seventeen acres of prairie and young forest landscapes. A series of ADA-accessible paths and boardwalks will connect the distinct areas. The Nature Playscape has been developed and designed by a dynamic team of national experts in the fields of design, architecture, urban planning and design, landscape architecture and play spaces. The process included interactive engagement with St. Louis youth from more than 20 schools, recreation centers and youth/education organizations.

Key Goals include:

  • Connecting children and families of all backgrounds and abilities with nature and promoting their physical, mental and emotional well-being
  • Engaging children’s senses as they explore, discover and learn
  • Providing an accessible, joyful and safe destination for nature-based experiential education
  • Transforming mowed turf into natural landscapes with native and diverse plant species
  • Promoting environmental stewardship among community members of all ages
  • Enhancing the overall Park experience for all visitors

Forest Park East Waterways

The Waterways project will restore and greatly improve one of Forest Park’s most iconic and beloved features: the river system and lakes enjoyed by visitors and wildlife alike. Registered as a Sustainable SITES project, it is in the southeast corner of Forest Park and includes the restoration of Bowl, Jefferson, and Round Lakes. The project will incorporate ecosystem services for the landscape and the Park; connecting the water way system, reducing potable water input in the Waterways, managing stormwater onsite, and restoring plantings to enhance the area.

Highlights include:

  • Beautifying three lakes, improving access to the shorelines and adding visitor amenities;
  • Creating a new channel and adding underground recirculation and stormwater collection systems to fully connect the Park’s river system and reduce water use;
  • Creating a new visitor overlook and waterfall at Jefferson Lake
  • Planting nearly 500 new trees 

Submitted for approval of:
1 CM Credit

Mark Vanden Akker, Tao + Lee Architects
Mark Vanden Akker is an architect at Tao + Lee Associates with 10 years of experience in architecture and design. His previous projects include Ballpark Village Phase 2, Grant’s View Library, and Enterprise Pavilion at Shaw Park. Currently, Tao + Lee Associates are partnered with Ayers Saint Gross for the new Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Mark lives in Dogtown with his wife (also an architect) and two daughters. He enjoys playing and watching soccer, running, and brushing up on his drawing skills.

Frank Kartmann, Senior Vice President, Park Operations, Forest Park Forever
Frank Kartmann leads Forest Park Forever’s Park Operations division, overseeing the organization’s Department of Land Management and Department of Planning & Projects. Kartmann joined Forest Park Forever in spring 2016 after a 26-year career with Missouri American Water Company, including six years as its President. He was a founding member of the Metro Water Infrastructure Partnership, a regional water and wastewater infrastructure education organization based in the St. Louis metro area that has been cited as a national model by the Water Environment Federation. Kartmann’s community awards include the World Bird Sanctuary’s Wildlife Conservation Award, Fete du Feather (2015), and the Missouri DNR Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence (2014). He is a registered professional engineer, licensed in the state of Missouri.

Justin Schmitt, Landscape Designer/Horticulture Project Manager, Forest Park Forever
Justin began his career in high school when he took a part time job at a garden center. This experience sparked his passion for plants. He went on to further his education in horticulture and obtained a bachelors degree from Southeast Missouri State. Since graduation he has worked on landscape installation and maintenance projects in St. Louis and Denver. Justin has worked his way up from crew member to operations management for various commercial companies. Most recently, he managed the local installation department of a national landscape services company. Justin holds certification as a landscape technician and is also an active member of the Gateway Professional Horticulturist Association.

Ted Spaid, Partner and Founder, SWT Design
Ted is known around the country for his tacit knowledge of park planning, landscape design, horticulture, environmental planning, and landscape maintenance best practices. His vision and talent is infused in his firm’s practice, ever challenging accepted standards and methodologies. Ted was named ASLA Fellow in 2018 and, in 2012, he was awarded the Robert Goetz Award for this contribution to the profession of landscape architecture.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020, 5:30 – 7:00 pm
5:30 – 5:45 pm – Opening Remarks & Introductions
5:45 – 7:00 pm – Formal Presentation

Virtual event.
Registrants will receive login details prior to event.

Free to all attendees!

Click here to register online!

QUESTIONS? Contact USGBC-Missouri Gateway staff at or (314) 577-0225.

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