Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Center House Entry Garden Student Design Competition Call for Proposals

Artist’s Rendering, Center House Elevation

1. Introduction

Stockbridge, MA, September 1, 2017 – The Berkshire Botanical Garden (BBG) is launching a call for proposals to select a designer or design team to help create a new entry garden on its 15-acre property. This call for proposals is open to all students currently enrolled in an accredited landscape architecture program in the United States and Canada. Entrants can be individuals or teams of students.

BBG is seeking an innovative proposal that will complement the design of its newly restored and expanded Center House building and surrounding established garden areas. The c. 4,000 sq.ft. Entry Garden area will become the new gateway for tens of thousands of annual visitors touring the Garden, attending special events on BBG grounds and inside the Center House, and participating in BBG’s varied horticultural and educational programs that take place year-round.

2. Deadline to Submit Proposals

The deadline to submit proposals electronically is October 30, 2017 at 5pm EDT. (A Registration Form and a $50 registration fee must also be submitted by October 20, 2017 at 5pm EDT.)

Any applications submitted after the October 20, 2017 deadline will not be accepted.

For further information, please contact:

Michael Beck
Executive Director
Berkshire Botanical Garden
P.O. Box 826
Stockbridge, MA 01262

3. Selection Process

The winning design will be selected by a five-member jury made up of independent designers, horticulturalists, and landscape architects, on the basis of the creative response to the design brief as well as originality and clarity of the concept and the creative approach. The winning submission must take into consideration the specifics of the site, the challenges of the location, BBG’s estimated project implementation budget and timeline, the demands on ongoing maintenance, and the programming envisioned by BBG for the garden area and the adjoining Center House building.

The winning design and two runners up will be announced on November 3, 2017 on the competition website and through local and regional news media. All participants will receive the results of the competition via email.

The winning design proposal will be used as the basis for the new Center House Entry Garden that will be built beginning in December, 2017. BBG’s staff and design consultants will provide feedback on the concept described in the winning submission, and will work with the winning designer(s) towards a final design and construction drawings, which must be finalized by December, 2017.

4. Schedule

September 1, 2017— Registration Opens
October 6, 2017— Deadline for questions to BBG
Registered designers are invited to submit questions to BBG at any point from time of registration until 5pm EDT. BBG’s answers to all questions will be posted on the competition site on a rolling basis, but no later than October 13, 2017
October 30, 2017— Online registration and fee payment deadline --interested designers submit contact information and nonrefundable processing fee of $50 to BBG.
Deadline for competition submission (electronic). Registrants submit design materials electronically
November 13, 2017— Announcement of winner and runners-up
November - December, 2017— Development period for winning project
Winning designer or team to work with BBG and BBG’s design consultants on details of design. BBG has engaged Landscape Architects Okerstrom Lang Ltd. to draft all construction documents.
Early December, 2017— Dedication of Center House Building and presentation of winning Entry Garden design to the public
Winning designer or representative of winning design team will be invited to attend. Exact date will be dependent on building construction schedule.
December, 2017 - April, 2018 — Construction period for Entry Garden.
May 6, 2018— Dedication of new entry garden on first Sunday of 2018 visiting season at BBG

5. Jury

  • Page Dickey, Writer and Garden Designer (Falls Village, CT)
  • Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener at Great Dixter Garden and CEO, The Great Dixter Charitable Trust (East Sussex, United Kingdom)
  • Renny Reynolds, Landscape Architect and Co-Owner of Hortulus Farm (Bucks County, PA)
  • Mark E. Strieter, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (New York, NY and Charlottesville, VA)
  • Matthew Urbanski, Principal, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc., (New York, NY)

6. Honoraria and Project Budget

The winning designer will be awarded an honorarium of $1,500. Two runners-up will each receive $750. These three designs will be exhibited at BBG during the winter of 2018, and BBG will seek to publicize the designs through local, regional and national media channels.

BBG plans to have a design development and construction budget of $100,000 available to implement the Center House Entry Garden. However, we reserve the right not to implement the design based on unforeseen future funding constraints or for any other reason.

7. General Information

The Berkshire Botanical Garden is a not-for-profit, membership-supported, educational institution located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The Garden was founded by several area garden clubs and civic associations in 1934 on six acres of donated land. Our public display gardens and plant collections are among the oldest in the region. The Garden has been expanded over the years in breadth and variety through a series of bequests and major gifts. At present, the Garden comprises about 15 acres.

The Garden provides a place of serene beauty for Berkshire residents and visitors to enjoy, and teaches local gardeners how to grow annuals, perennials, fruit, vegetables and woody plants in the Berkshires. From its inception, the Garden has also offered a broad variety of educational programs for adults and school children from the surrounding community. A Harvest Festival was first held in 1934 as the Garden’s earliest fundraising event. It has since become the Berkshires’ best known community gathering with an annual participation of about 12,000 people, including many of our 1,100 members and 700 active volunteers.

Today, the Berkshire Botanical Garden is a lively center for horticulture, arboriculture, educational programs, and community events. As the area’s only botanical garden, it is an important resource for the tri-state (MA/CT/NY) region it serves. The Garden, which showcases the natural beauty of the Berkshires, complements the many cultural institutions of the region and adds a unique dimension to the experience of visitors and residents alike. BBG’s mission: “We are dedicated to fulfilling the community’s need for information, education and inspiration concerning the art and science of gardening and the preservation and improvement of our local environment.”

The Garden’s Board of Trustees has initiated an ongoing planning process, enabling the Garden to better carry out its horticultural and educational missions and meet the changing needs of the Berkshire community. A Master Site Plan (MSP) was developed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates in 2012, and offers ideas for improvements that we are in the process of implementing now.

The Botanical Garden maintains 27 gardens and collections, as well as three greenhouses. In addition, we continue to add to a tree collection that has many trees native to the Northeast. These features are complemented annually by a variety of seasonal art and plant displays.

Stockbridge is located in hardiness zone 5b, and BBG’s garden areas feature plants tolerant of Western Massachusetts’ cold winters and short summers. Below are brief descriptions of twelve of the 27 gardens that are representative of our collection

  • The Tatkon Entry Garden: This is a large mixed border garden that surrounds the pathways leading from the parking lot to the Visitor’s Center. It was designed by Cudnohufsky Associates and completed in 2002. Mixed in with woody plants and perennials are 2,000 annuals planted yearly and organized into different “rooms” of varied color schemes.
  • The Vista Garden: A four-season garden room with flowering bulbs, trees and shrubs blooming in spring and summer, Colchicum and woody plants with fall color, and evergreens providing year-round interest. Created in 1997.
  • The Procter Mixed Border Garden: Informal garden with an old-fashioned feel, and a predominant color scheme of blue, purple, pink and white. Created in 1966 in honor of Beatrice Sterling Procter, who was a founding member of the Berkshire Botanical Garden.
  • The de Gersdorff Perennial Border: An informal perennial border, this garden was originally designed by Lyle Blundel of UMASS and installed in 1954. It features large drifts of perennials with a changing color scheme as the season progresses.
  • The Martha Stewart Cottage Garden: This garden was sponsored, designed, and planted by Martha Stewart Living in 2009. It is an old-fashioned cottage garden surrounding a potting shed with a living roof.
  • The Frelinghuysen Shade Border: A shade perennial border featuring a large collection of foliage plants. It was designed in 1998 by Edith Eddleman and Doug Ruhren and planted by the Garden’s horticulture staff in 1999.
  • The Daylily Walk: This collection consists of 204 cultivars of daylilies. Of these, 76 daylilies date from before 1970. This qualifies the garden as a Historical American Hemerocallis Society Display Garden. The lilies are organized chronologically by the date they were registered with the American Hemerocallis Society. The collection spans the years 1893-2006.
  • The Foster Rock Garden: Created by the Berkshire Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society for their national meeting here in 1994. It is centered on an outcropping of rock surrounded by a scree bed planted with rock garden plants.
  • The Pond Garden: This garden features an approximately 700 square foot pond with a prominent center island. It displays shade and water loving, woody and herbaceous plants. Anthony Archer-Wills designed the native planting along the shoreline in 2010 and recently returned to add an ornamental fountain feature.
  • The Rose Garden: A rose hardiness test garden designed by Michael Marriot, rosarian for David Austin Roses. The roses for the garden were donated by David Austin Roses.
  • The Vegetable Garden: This garden demonstrates how a vegetable garden can be ornamental as well as utilitarian. Arranged in a simple grid reminiscent of medieval gardens, it features 60 square raised beds with walkways in between. Each is devoted to a single species of vegetable showcasing heirloom vegetables as well as newer cultivars. The garden was designed by Jack Staub in 2009.
  • The Herb Garden: Our historic Herb Garden was designed and planted in 1937. It is an informal terraced herb garden with each level presenting specific groups of herbs according to their usage (i.e. herbs for dying, culinary herbs, medicinal herbs). The Herb Garden was rejuvenated and redesigned by Page Dickey in 2009, and new attractive bluestone pavers and steps were installed in the spring of 2015.

BBG is sited at the intersection of Routes 102 and 183, two state roads on the outskirts of Stockbridge. Route 102 is one of the main access roads to the historic core of the town from Interstate 90, with significant motor vehicle traffic during the day. The road bisects the BBG property into roughly equal halves. Public parking (including handicapped reserved parking) for c. 65 vehicles can be found on the southern half of BBG’s grounds, where visitors also pay for admission inside BBG’s Visitor Center.

On the northern half of the BBG property stands its oldest building, Center House, which dates in part to the 1700s. BBG is in the process of renovating and expanding Center House into a multi-purpose building for its visitors, staff and volunteers. The building will feature an entry foyer with oversized living plant walls, restrooms, a new classroom with an attached teaching and demonstration kitchen, a horticultural research library containing an historical collection of gardening and garden design books, and a series of gallery spaces that will be used to display a variety of exhibits of horticultural and natural history- themed art and science. The second floor of the Center House building will provide office space for BBG’s horticulture and education staff, while the basement will be used for storage by the horticulture and maintenance departments. The building will be configured to allow for community use as well as for BBG’s special events. Community group meetings, private catered functions and small weddings will take place inside the building throughout the year. With a wrap-around covered porch, the new building will provide attractive, sheltered space for organized tour groups to linger either before or after a tour of the Garden.

The Center House Entry Garden site is located between the new Center House building and the pedestrian crossing connecting the north and south sides of the BBG property. The site also abuts three established garden areas: Procter Garden, the Herb Garden, and the Vista Garden.

The site presently includes a gravel driveway connecting the building to the road and to other parts of the Garden. Although the exact location of this driveway can be altered, the design for the Entry Garden must maintain vehicular access to the Center House building to allow for deliveries, drop-off of mobility-impaired visitors, and access for emergency response vehicles.

The 2012 Van Valkenburgh MSP identified the Entry Garden site as “underutilized space” and recommended the incorporation of a physical visual and noise barrier in the shape of an earth berm to separate the area from busy Route 102.

BBG is seeking design proposals that will take into consideration the current challenges provided by the proximity of the road, and will find ways to create a visually pleasing space that can be better utilized for the benefit of all BBG visitors. The planned programming of the new Center House should be taken into consideration, as should the need for year-round appeal and functionality.

The new Entry Garden should not duplicate existing BBG garden areas or design influences but should rather create a unique and innovative new garden space. BBG is especially interested in exploring a contemporary design esthetic that is as yet not expressed in our existing garden areas. Although the look and feel of the renovated Center House building is grounded in traditional New England design, and the abutting garden areas of Procter, Herb, and Vista Gardens are either historic or traditional, the Entry Garden should not be thought of as an extension of those designs but rather as a potential foil for these earlier design influences.

8. Registration

Registration and registration fee must be received by October 30, 2017. Proponents can register online by emailing a completed Registration Form to BBG will confirm the registration by providing a unique Registration Number via return email.

A $50 registration fee is payable by check to “Berkshire Botanical Garden” or by credit card. Please call the BBG offices at (413) 320-4794 with your credit card information. Payment sent by mail must be postmarked no later than the above Registration Deadline of October 20, 2017 and should be sent to:

Berkshire Botanical Garden
Attn: Entry Garden Design Competition
P.O. Box 826 Stockbridge, MA 01262

Please include your Registration Number on your check.

9. Eligibility

This Call for Proposals is open to individuals and teams consisting of students currently enrolled in a degree program at an accredited landscape architecture school located in the United States or Canada. Multiple submissions are permitted, but each submission requires the payment of a separate $50 registration fee.

10. Submission Requirements

By submitting a proposal, designers authorize the Berkshire Botanical Garden to make public, exhibit or disseminate all or part of the proposal.

Proposals shall be submitted electronically to before the submission deadline. Email size may not exceed 7.5MB. Files must follow the format and entry requirements listed below. All submission documents must clearly indicate the assigned Registration Number. The design proposal information must NOT contain your name, as all identifying information will be withheld from the jury until the final selection.

Submission documents must have 300 DPI resolution and be submitted separately in two pdf documents labelled “TI[REGISTRATION NUMBER]” and “DPI[REGISTRATION NUMBER]” containing the following:

  1. Team Information (TI)
    • Four page maximum, each page formatted for 8 ½” x 11” printing
    • Name of proposed project and assigned Registration Number must appear on each page
    • Individual or team members’ names with brief CV
    • Name(s) of accredited academic institution(s) each team member is enrolled in.
    • Brief descriptions and visual documentation of relevant past projects by team members, if applicable.
    • 80-100 word essay on why you wish to collaborate with the Berkshire Botanical Garden
    • Name of primary contact person with complete contact information (address, telephone number, email address)
  2. Design Proposal Information (DPI)
    • One page Project Summary (11” x 17” landscape format) including assigned Registration Number
      • At least one 3-dimensional perspective, sketch or rendering showing the garden design in its entirety
      • Optional images consisting of concept diagrams, references, or other visual support
      • 100- to 150-word narrative describing overall design concept and motivation as well as the visitor experience offered by the design.
    • Two page Design Details (11” x 17” landscape format) including assigned Registration Number
      • 2 main views and a scaled plan of the entry garden indicating size and specific proposed materials, including plant material.
      • Diagram(s) and other details indicating construction and/or installation methods proposed

11. Additional Information

  1. You must have all ownership rights in and to your design. By submitting an entry in this competition, you represent and warrant that any design elements, text or images contained in your submission are the original work of the student or the members of your design team and that no other person or entity, including any undisclosed designer, has any ownership interest in any portion of your submission.
  2. Your submission must not have been previously entered in any other competition or previously published.
  3. BBG reserves the right to void and/or disqualify any submission if found in BBG’s sole discretion to be inconsistent with these representations and warranties.
  4. By submitting an entry, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless BBG from and against all claims or damages arising out of the use of any design or other materials you submit.
  5. By submitting an entry, you grant to BBG and its successors and assigns an unlimited, worldwide, perpetual license to publish, display, use, edit, adapt, modify, copy, disseminate, or post the design, text and other submitted materials online, in print, film, television, or other media for any purpose without compensation or notification to you.
  6. By submitting an entry, you grant to BBG the right to use your name, likeness, city and state, biographical information, entry materials, and written or oral statements, for editorial or promotional purposes, whether you are selected as a winner or not, without compensation, unless required by law.
  7. All taxes on the monetary value of the prizes being awarded in this competition are the sole responsibility of the winner. A 1099 tax statement will be filed with the IRS and the winner and runners-up will be required to sign a W-9 form and liability release. Failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the prize.

12. Views and Plans






Download Entry Garden Site Plan







Download Entry Landscape Plan Detail








Download Passenger Loading Zone Plan Detail










Download Center House Floor Plan Jan 2017








Download Aerial Photos, September 2017



Pre-Construction View
Center House Entry Area: South

Pre-Construction View
Center House Entry Area: Southwest

Pre-Construction View
Center House Entry Area: North-1

Pre-Construction View
Center House Entry Area: North-2

Pre-Construction View
Center House Entry Area: North-3

Pre-Construction View
Center House Entry Area: North-4

Supplemental Information

Color Swatches

van Valkenburgh Analysis


13. Q & A

Q: We want to know about the drainage system on the existing site (The location of drainage inlets, biorentation). We are wondering if you have a drainage map as a reference for us to deal with the hydrology system on site?

A: BBG does not have drainage maps for the site. There is an existing storm drain between Route 102 (West Stockbridge Road) and the site. Please see a photo obtained from Google Maps for exact location. 

Google Maps screen shot of entrance to site

Q: Can you provide us with some images and dimensions of the renovated Center House (height, entryways, windows)? We would also like to have information on the materials of the driveway, walkway and the facade of the Center House.

A: Our architect team has added some additional information about the Center house to our competition website (scroll down to the very bottom for “Supplemental Information” and “Color Swatches”.) We have provided construction drawings showing a sloped surface that will be composed of dry laid stone. The sloped surface will allow for ADA-compliant access to the Center House. Please note that accessibility requirements will include a level drop-off space connecting with an accessible path to this sloped surface (min. dimensions 18’x8′, max. grade 2%). A driveway connecting Center House to the road (Rte 102) will be required. The competition teams should propose designs for pedestrian and vehicular access to Center House as part of their submission.

Q: Is sound/ noisiness an issue when near or around the Center House, is that a problem that needs to be addressed?

A: Yes. As indicated in the design brief, Route 102, which bisects BBG’s grounds and is close to the Center House and the new Entry Garden site, is a busy road. One goal for the winning design should be to mitigate noise to the extent possible, in order to provide a sheltered area for our visitors. Note that the van Valkenburgh analysis suggested an earth berm to mitigate noise.

Q: Why was the proposal for the Entry Garden from the master plan of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates not selected?

A: The van Valkenburgh analysis, which was undertaken in 2012 before the new design for the Center House was conceived, merely suggested a “defined gathering space” for the area in front of the building. No detailed design for this area was developed at the time. (A copy of the van Valkenburgh analysis has been added to the materials on the Competition website).

Q: Are most of the visitors to BBG one-time visitors to the garden or are most of your visitors from the surrounding area. Do you have annual report of your past visitors, if not who are your trying to attract to the botanic garden?

A: BBG welcomes a mix of local residents and visitors from other areas. We have about 1500 individuals who are active BBG members, many of whom live (or maintain second homes) nearby. BBG members receive free admission to the Garden. Many of our c. 13,000 annual paying visitors are tourists to the Berkshire region, although BBG does not collect detailed information about our visitors’ home addresses or ZIP codes. 

Q: From which direction on West Stockbridge Road do visitors arrive from?

A: West Stockbridge Road (Route 102) connects the towns of West Stockbridge (to the Northwest of BBG) and Stockbridge (Southeast of BBG). Visitors arrive from either direction, as both connect to other towns and to Interstate 90. Once visitors arrive by car and park in the BBG parking lot, they cross Route 102 on the crosswalk indicated in the Entry Garden site plan. (The site plan indicates where the main BBG parking lot is located).

Q: The Entry Garden was last redesigned in 2002, in your opinion why is it unsuccessful?

A: The “Tatkon Entry Garden” described in the design brief is a separate garden area abutting our main parking lot, on the South side of Rte 102, and is NOT the subject of this competition. The new Center House Entry Garden is located in an area that has not been redeveloped in many years.

Q: Currently are there accommodations for visitors to sit and eat?

A: BBG has benches and picnic tables throughout its grounds, but lacks a specific area for sitting and eating. Snacks are currently sold from the Visitor Center building (near the main parking lot), and in the future the new Center House building with its large kitchen will be used to prepare snacks and light meals for sale to our visitors. Seating will be available on the porch area of the new Center House building and should also be considered for the Entry Garden site.

Q: Can we have more than 3 11 x 17’s? And are those suppose to be two plan views (one planting plan, one construction plan) and one page with 3-d renderings?


  • One page Project Summary (11” x 17” landscape format) including assigned Registration Number
    • At least one 3-dimensional perspective, sketch or rendering showing the garden design in its entirety
    • Optional images consisting of concept diagrams, references, or other visual support
    • 100- to 150-word narrative describing overall design concept and motivation as well as the visitor experience offered by the design.
  • Two page Design Details (11” x 17” landscape format) including assigned Registration Number
    • 2 main views and a scaled plan of the entry garden indicating size and specific proposed materials, including plant material.
    • Diagram(s) and other details indicating construction and/or installation methods proposed
Q:  Do you have a CAD dwg file that you can give to us?
A: Yes, we can forward to any registered participants certain CAD files of the project upon request. Please note these files are 2D only and may not be compatible with all CAD software. Receipt and use of any CAD files by any competition participants signifies an understanding that BBG or BBG’s architects and designers are not responsible for any inaccuracies in these files, and that the use of these files is expressly limited for purposes of the Entry Garden Design Competition. All CAD files remain the property of Mark Smith Design, Inc. 
Q: Is the existing plant material to remain? Or can we remove it?

A: There are currently some maturing crabapple and katsura trees in the area marked for the Entry Garden, providing a certain amount of screening from the road. BBG is open to keeping existing trees or removing them if the new design so requires.

Q: How many people should the gathering area account for?

A: Our new Center House building has a capacity of 120. On a busy weekend day BBG welcomes 200-300 visitors, up to 50 people per hour, and we have seen 15-20% growth over the last several years. We would like the outside gathering area to accommodate this amount of normal visitor traffic.

Q: How many teams are involved in this competition?

A: Our registration period now runs through October 20, 2017. We have received c. 20 registrations to date.

Q:  Should we include grading and drainage plans?

A:  Grading and drainage plans are not required but can be included within the parameters of the three-page submission.

Q:  Do we need to specify hardscape materials?
A:  Please specify hardscape as well as plant materials contemplated in the design. 
Q:  Does our seating area need to be handicap accessible?
A:  BBG’s grounds are partially accessible to visitors with disabilities. The new Center House building is fully ADA compliant as local and state building codes require. To the extent possible, areas of the new Entry Garden, including seating areas, should likewise be accessible. However, 100% accessibility of all garden areas is not a requirement.
Q:  What are the specifications on the budget? Does the $100,000 include plant material and hardscape material?
A:  BBG is actively seeking in-kind donations to cover many aspects of the design implementation, including for hardscape materials, plants, and labor. However, we expect to work within a total project budget of $100,000.

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