The Science Museum of Virginia has opened its new community greenspace called The Green. With the trees planted, art sculpture installed and pathways poured, the public can start enjoying the urban park’s natural beauty as well as environmental and health benefits.
“Richmond needs more greenspace, and we’re proud to showcase examples of natural solutions to address the impacts of climate change,” said Chief Wonder Officer Richard Conti. “We can’t wait to see guests, neighbors and community members enjoying The Green’s robust ecosystems and blooming native plants, and we look forward to watching that connection and engagement deepen as we complete the remaining work of greening our campus.”
The Green has been in the works for more than five years. After completing interior enhancements, Science Museum leadership looked outside the building and made plans to enrich campus features.
Work on the newly opened section of The Green included removing two acres of asphalt parking lot and replacing it with native vegetation, walking paths, sleek lighting, unique interpretation and benches. In total, thousands of native plants will play a key role in achieving The Green’s design goals and desired benefits. A tree-lined allée paralleling Broad Street will enhance the pedestrian experience along this busy thoroughfare while buffering traffic activity, sequestering carbon and managing stormwater.
The Green aligns with the city’s Richmond 300 development plan, which prioritizes green infrastructure for Greater Scott’s Addition. As one of the fastest-growing, high-density, mixed-use neighborhoods in the city, the district has one of the lowest levels of urban tree cover in Richmond. Transitioning parts of the Science Museum’s campus from gray to green helps mitigate the urban heat island effect in the Scott’s Addition area.
Opening the section of The Green in front of the parking deck gets the Science Museum another step closer to accomplishing the goal of having more than half of the 37-acre campus as greenspace. When the full project is realized in several years, the Science Museum will have more than 20 acres of greenspace surrounding the historic building along Broad Street.
In addition to opening The Green, the Science Museum is also celebrating the debut of the large, STEM-inspired art feature called Cosmic Perception which sits inside the park. Featuring 50 protruding white spires — steel triangle-shaped tubes shooting outward and upward like a burst originating from a single point — guests can travel around and through the dynamic original sculpture to experience how the dichroic-glass kaleidoscopes offer an unexpected view of the urban environment and natural world.
The Science Museum’s Foundation has been actively fundraising for The Green. Nearly 200 supporters have donated to the effort. In addition, the organization met the $500,000 challenge grant from the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation ahead of schedule, and secured another $250,000 challenge grant from the Cabell Foundation.
“The speed with which we’ve raised the funds, and the continued support from organizations and individuals, shows the positive reception we’ve had to adding new greenspace in our neighborhood,” Conti said. “Opening the first section now gives community members the chance to explore and experience the gathering space as we continue to move on to other enhancements.”
The Science Museum partnered with Glave & Holmes Architecture on The Green. The space will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Guests are invited to relax, play, eat and exercise in the greenspace. Leashed pets are welcome with responsible owners who clean up after their furry friends.
The Science Museum will start working on the parcel directly in front of its building later this fall. The plans build on efforts in the newly opened section of The Green, including removing hardscape, continuing the allée along Broad Street and adding native plants to give the campus a cohesive feel.
For more information about The Green, please visit smv.org/thegreen.