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Latest design for Tacoma’s Seymour Conservatory renovation up for public discussion

An artist rendering of the second stage design proposal for Metro Parks’ Seymour Conservatory expansion, showing the original 1908 building with new entrance on right.
An artist rendering of the second stage design proposal for Metro Parks’ Seymour Conservatory expansion, showing the original 1908 building with new entrance on right. Courtesy

Tacomans have spoken up: They want a renovated Seymour Conservatory, but they still want lots of green space in Wright Park.

After offering four possible designs for expanding the conservatory to public comment in January, Metro Parks now has a new design that addresses practical needs and historic elements but keeps the footprint small.

The public is invited to give feedback on the design at a meeting Thursday at Metro Parks headquarters.

“We listened to what people said through the public process, and we’re bringing back an updated schematic design,” said project manager Kristi Evans.

Evans is also taking feedback through her email at kristie@tacomaparks.com.

The W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, built in 1908 in Wright Park, is one of three Victorian conservatories on the West Coast.

Filled with exotic plants and community programs, the popular but aging infrastructure needs refurbishment and lacks amenities such as restrooms and education spaces.

The expansion will be funded initially by $3 million from the 2014 parks bond, then by grants and fundraising. Work might begin as soon as 2017.

After collecting more than 300 surveys and noting citizen comments in several public meetings, Metro Parks, working with SKHS Architects, has a new plan that retains some popular elements such as a new domed display area.

Other additions, such as workshop and office space, restrooms, storage and mechanical areas, would be hidden below ground.

The initial plans had the potential to double or triple the footprint of the existing historic building, which raised concerns about intrusion into the park space.

To reduce the footprint, the new plan removes one display house and cuts the square footage of behind-the-scenes spaces.

Restoration of facades, boiler replacement and other necessary upgrades still would happen as planned in the first phase of construction.

While the new plan is up for comment, Evans cautioned that it still is in the schematic stage, showing only general layouts and not exact dimensions or materials.

After the upcoming meeting, Metro Parks will post drawings and other information at conservatoryfuture.org. After considering feedback, Metro Parks will show a final design at an open house in June.

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568, @rose_ponnekanti

Seymour Conservatory expansion meeting

When: 6 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Metro Parks headquarters, 4702 S. 19th St., Tacoma.

Email comments: kristie@tacomaparks.com.

More information: conservatoryfuture.org.

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