American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2006 Professional Awards
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Site plan of the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. (Image courtesy of Sawyer/Berson.)
Front entry and plaza of the sculpture garden at Dueling Oaks Drive. The "Reclining Mother and Child" sculpture by Henry Moore is located at the center of the entry plaza on the main axis of the garden. (Image courtesy of Richard Sexton.)
View of the Lawn Ellipse within the Pine Grove side of the sculpture garden.(Image courtesy of Richard Sexton.)
View of the lagoon, main pedestrian bridge, and the Overlook Terrace at the Pine Grove side of the sculpture garden. The granite sculpture placed at the cast stone clad Overlook Terrace is "Las Mesas Bench" by Jesus Bautista Moroles. (Image courtesy of Richard Sexton.)
Night view of the Exedra from the secondary pedestrian bridge nearest the famous Dueling Oak. The "Standing Man with Outstretched Arm" bronze sculpture by Stephen de Staebler is placed on center with the bridge, and within the center of the Exedra paved space. (Image courtesy of Richard Sexton.)
View of the main lawn at the Oak Grove with the "Spider" sculpture by Louise Bourgeois in the foreground, and the "Love" sculpture by Robert Indiana in the background to the left. (Image courtesy of Richard Sexton.)
View of the "Riace Warriors I, II, III, IV" sculpture by Elizabeth Frink from the garden path looking toward the lawn at the Oak Grove. (Image courtesy of Richard Sexton.)
Family portrait at the "Love" sculpture by Robert Indiana. (Image courtesy of Richard Sexton.)

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Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana
Sawyer/Berson Architecture & Landscape Architecture, LLP, New York City

"The landscape architect created beautiful rooms to couch each piece. The monochromatic planting palette resonates. This is really special."

— 2006 Professional Awards Jury Comments

Narrative Summary
The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art occupies approximately five acres in City Park adjacent to the Museum. Atypical of most sculpture gardens, this Garden is located within a mature existing landscape of Pines, Magnolias and Live Oaks. The garden design creates outdoor viewing spaces within this picturesque landscape. A re-configured lagoon bisects the site and creates two distinct halves: a mature Pine and Magnolia grove adjacent to the Museum, and a more open area of two-hundred year old Live Oaks across the lagoon near the New Orleans Botanical Garden. The Sculpture Garden is designed for approximately sixty sculptures, most of them donated to the New Orleans Museum of Art by the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Foundation.

A pair of cast stone and bronze pavilions with clerestory windows marks the entry to the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The pavilions, which face a large meadow adjacent to the Museum's entry drive, flank a large plaza containing Henry Moore's "Reclining Mother and Child". The pavilions and entry plaza also establish a centerline through the depth of the garden that becomes an organizing element of the design.

The garden is bisected by a lagoon which has been re-shaped into two basins on either side of the central pedestrian bridge. These lagoon basins each contain a sculpture, Kenneth Snelson's "Virlane Tower" and Arman's "Pablo Casal's Obelisk". By locating these vertical sculptures in the water, their reflections become part of the compositions.

A total of three pedestrian bridges cross the lagoon and connect the two sides of the garden. The entries to the bridges are marked by simple, cast stone pylons that support bronze lanterns. Side rails constructed of bronze and stainless steel mesh reflect the light and allow views through the bridges. This combination of cast stone lantern pylons and bronze with stainless mesh is repeated in the form of monumental gates at the main entry and two secondary entries.

A picturesque composition of curvilinear paths compliments the mature trees while creating smaller viewing areas, or "galleries", within the garden. These paths also connect a series of garden features including the Overlook Terrace, the Exedra at the end of one of the pedestrian bridges, the monumental Water Steps at one of the secondary entrances, the elliptical Sculpture Theater containing smaller pieces of sculpture and the Cascade Garden Pool containing Robert Graham's "Source Figure". The pathways also frame the elliptical Pine Grove immediately off of the main entry plaza and the large Oak Lawn at the opposite end of the garden. With the exception of the lagoon, the Oak Lawn is the most open space in the garden and contains some of the larger sculptures including works by Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Elizabeth Frink, Joel Shapiro and Claes Oldenburg.

Building Materials
Limestone Finish Architectural Precast Concrete cladding at buildings and site features; Statuary Finish Bronze Doors, Entry Gates, Bridge Handrails, and Light Fixtures; Brushed Stainless Steel frame and mesh panels at Entry Gates; Sandblasted Glass at Pavilion Clerestories and Light Fixtures; Tudor Finish Limestone Gray unit pavers at Garden Pathways and Plazas.

Building Facilities
Docent Services including a Ticket Window, Staff Lounge, Staff Restroom, Security Office, and Public Restrooms.

Garden Size
4.76 acres, including 127,000 square feet of planted area, 50,000 square feet of sod area, and 23,230 square feet of paved areas.

Garden Features

  • 55 sculptures
  • 3,236 linear feet of pathways
  • Three pedestrian bridges crossing City Park Lagoon
  • 687 square foot Cascade Garden Pool
  • Seating areas and terraces with views across the lagoon and through the garden
  • Site lighting, including specialty lighting for sculptures
  • Existing mature trees, including 27 Live Oaks, 1 Water Oak, 11 Southern Magnolias, 19 Slash Pines, 2 Bald Cypress and 1 Sweet Gum that required special arboricultural treatment to the root zones and canopy
  • New trees, including 9 Live Oaks, 15 Slash Pines, 23 Bald Cypress, 67 Little Gem Magnolias, and 28 Dr. Merrill Magnolias
  • New shrubs and plant material, including 63 Camellias in 4 varieties; 344 Azaleas in 3 varieties; 1,181 Pittosporums in 3 varieties; 244 Japanese Ligustrums in both tree and shrub form; 56 Cleyera; 15 Japanese Yews; 42 Wax Myrtles; 20 Elaegnus; 14 Sago Palms; 5 Windmill Palms; and 86 Louisiana Sabal Palmettos
  • Ornamental plantings including white and purple blooming Lily of the Nile and 2 varieties of Ginger and Crinum
  • Holy Fern, Ardisia and Asian Jasmine groundcover
  • Palmetto St. Augustine sod for all lawn areas
  • A variety of vines at the perimeter fence including Evergreen Wisteria, Carolina Yellow Jasmine, Evergreen Clematis, Star Jasmine, Painted Trumpet Vine and Rose of Montana
  • A variety of aquatic plantings at the lagoon edge primarily consisting of purple and yellow blooming varieties of Louisiana Iris, Yellow Flag Iris, Spider Lily, Butterfly Iris and Horsetail

Project Resources


Architecture for Pavilions, Bridges, Gates and Perimeter Fence:
Ledbetter Fullerton Architects

Landscape and Sculpture Lighting Design:
Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design, Inc.

Civil and Structural Engineering:
Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc.

Electrical Engineering:
Huseman Wang Consulting Engineers

Consulting Arborist:
Bayou Tree Service

GPS CAD Consultant:
Vollmer Associates, LLP

Structural Soil Consultant:
Chuck Friedrich, ASLA



View of sculptures from the Victory Avenue Entry. The untitled sculpture by Robert Shapiro is in the foreground, and the "Safety Pin" by Claes Oldenburg is in the middle ground.
(Image courtesy of Richard Sexton.)
Cascade Garden Pool with the "Source Figure" sculpture by Robert Graham installed within the pool. The "Pair of Right Angle Chairs" by Scott Burton shown at the far end of the pool. The "floating" step pavers and the water cascade can be seen in this view. Fiber optic lighting provides indirect lighting at the underside of the floating step pavers and the pool copping. The water supply for the Cascade Garden Pool is pumped through a strainer intake mounted on the submerged concrete sculpture pedestal for the "Virlane Tower" by Kenneth Snelson located within the lagoon (not shown in this picture). (Image courtesy of Richard Sexton.)
The Cascade Garden Pool showing the garden path circulation to the center pedestrian bridge in the background. The "Sette" sculpture by Scott Burton is shown at the far side of the pool with the "Pair of Right Angle Chairs" shown in the foreground. These Burton sculptures were strategically placed for both exhibit and seating. (Image courtesy of Richard Sexton.)
Victory Avenue Entry with the "Castle of the Eye, II" sculpture by Minoru Niizuma within the planted center of the "circus" pedestrian entry. This is the primary pedestrian entry for ingress and egress to the New Orleans Botanical Garden located across the street.(Image courtesy of Richard Sexton.)
Night view of the Overlook Terrace featuring the Water Steps and the "Las Mesas Bench" by Jesus Bautista Moroles sculpture at the Pine Grove side of the sculpture garden. The “Pablo Casal’s Obelisk” sculpture is shown within the lagoon in the foreground. (Image courtesy of Richard Sexton.)
View of the lagoon and the Overlook Terrace at the Pine Grove side of the sculpture garden during the flood after hurricane Katrina. (Image courtesy of Jacqueline L. Sullivan.)
View of the collapsed Virlane Tower from the winds of hurricane Katrina. (Image courtesy of Jacqueline L. Sullivan.)
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