The Nasher Sculpture Center houses an impressive collection of modern sculptures for both indoor and outdoor viewing. PWP created an outdoor gallery that is home to a few permanent sculptures as well as 20 to 30 temporary pieces in changing exhibits.
The garden design responds to Renzo Piano’s building, a parallel series of “archaeological” walls that allow views from Flora Street (the main street of the Arts District) through the delicately glazed building and out to the garden. Display spaces are created by live-oak and cedar-elm allées, rows of holly hedges, and a series of stone plinths that serve as seating and pedestals for sculpture. The plinths also hold flexible systems of lighting, sound, security, and irrigation. As a counterpoint to the linear display space, a large cedar-elm grove creates more intimate outdoor rooms for sculptures of different scales.
Fountains and pools at the side and end of the garden attract the eye and mask noise while groves of bamboo and a magnificent hedge of magnolias frame the sides of the building.
Creating a sculpture garden with both permanent and changing exhibits comes with some challenges: specifically the requirements to move large, heavy pieces and to have flexibility in siting them within the garden. This necessitated the invention of a special soil system that supports weight, drains perfectly without catch basins, and encourages the growth of a resilient turf grass as well as the many specimen trees. Pavement was kept to a minimum, allowing easy access through the full extent of the garden.