BOTANICAL GARDENS EXHIBITS
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens & Education Center
Education Center Exhibits, Exterior Gardens Exhibits
Xplore Design worked with Wells Resources and The Betty Ford Alpines Staff for a multiphase exhibit project. Together we designed the exhibits for this beautiful new state-of-the-art education center and exterior gardens in Vail, Colorado. Phase 1 of the the project took about 18 months to complete, Phase Two about 20 months. The exhibits showcase the fascinating story of Alpine plants and ecology.
One of the goals of Botanical Garden is to encourage the exploration of plants and their ecosystems. There are few world plants that can compete with the charismatic mega fauna of the animal kingdom (e.g., elephants, whales, tigers, elk). To showcase plants in a ‘big’ way (to showcase them as charismatic mini-flora) we helped counter the notion that plants are unworthy of consideration, and are in fact integral and foundational to all life's existence here on this planet.
Xplore Design art directed all design, and managed the fabrication over 8 different sub-contractors. Mark Talbot/Xplore and Marcella Wells/Wells Resources worked closely during all phases from planning to fabrication. Marcella developed a comprehensive interpretive plan including visitor studies, which Mark/Xplore helped to refine for presentation, and used as the means to obtain client buyoff as well as production and fabrication guidelines.
The overarching thematic concept was "Alpine Plants play a major but often unseen role in global ecology, and can be a major '1st indicator' of climate change".
Phase 2, Exterior Exhibits - Design Process
Phase 2, Exterior Exhibits Portfolio
Phase 1, Interior Exhibits
We took a sampling of 5 common and important alpine plants and created scale models of them at 7x life size. Also included are scale models of 4 anatomically correct wild alpine bees, placed within the exhibit show pollinating flowers.
With the help of sculpturist Melisse Riechmann and creative direction from Nennette Kuich, we fabricated 4 species of bee, High Country Bumble Bee, Yellow Head Bumble Bee, Forest Bumble Bee and Western Bumble Bee.
Interpretive/Design Plan: Floorplan and Detail for the Primary 'BIG' exhibit. THe space was designed to be semi-portable, to accommodate various types of events, including normal visitation, special lectures, and fundraising events.
Concept sketches for two of the primary exhibit sections, 'BIG' and 'MAP'.
Early Sketches and final product, art directed by Mark Talbot/Xplore and Painted my Mickey Schilling of Mad Mick Studios. The scene depicts both flora and fauna of the alpine region.
This panel highlights the various pollination methods and physical parts that alpine plants use to reproduce. Exhibit includes a 3D tactile brass sculpture of a pollen grain.
A variety of alpine regions exist in the world, including some surprising places, like the Scottish Highlands. Map includes 4 raised relief topographical maps from the alpine region there in Vail, Patagonia, the Scottish Highlands, and the Himalayas.
This exhibit describes the various and amazing evolutionary adaptations many alpine plants have to survive in the harsh alpine environs. Included in this is the 'Alpine Spring Beauty' whose diminutive surface structure is belied by an enormous and thick root system that can grow several feet underground - depicted here life size with a bronze tactile 3D sculpture.
Alpine plants are typically very small. So much so that when hiking the alpine terrain, most people take no notice of them. With the BIG exhibit, we scaled the plants to 7X of their original size, placing many of them over the visitor's heads. Inserted into the exhibit was a half-dollar at that same scale, to give the visitor a sense of proportion. Surrounding the octagonal shaped podium are panels depicting some of the most beautiful and important of alpine flora.
Wall-offset mural with brass-casted details of plant roots and microscopic stoma structures, depicting the extreme adaptations that most plants have evolved to survive in harsh alpine conditions.
Brass casting, art directed by Mark Talbot/Xplore Design, and sculpted by Diane Sullivan. Object is 300x enlargement of a leaf stoma, the regulatory structure that controls water evaporation and absorption on the leaf surface.
Mark Talbot installs the raised-relief maps that were a sub-part of the overall MAP exhibit that showed alpine regions around the globe. The 4 different maps demonstrate that not all alpine regions are in the mountains - in fact, there are some alpine regions that are actually near sea-level!
Mark hanging the final sign for the exhibit intro area!