PAGE│DUKE Landscape Architects was asked, in 2004, to become part of a team to develop a long term master plan for the Baker Arboretum and ultimately for a building addition to the existing structure integral to the arboretum.
Phase I of the project involved the complete renovation of the private home on the property with the removal of an existing swimming pool, allowing for a totally new relationship to the existing landscape. New pathways and intimate garden spaces became part and parcel of this phase.
Phase II of the master plan was the development of a dynamic addition to the existing octagonal structure which housed The Doors of Life, painted in France by Joe Downing. Intellectual focus for this portion of the project focused around ensuring the new building had a strong regional voice tied to the imagery of a Kentucky farm. The parallel barn-like wings and silo feature were inspired by Joe Downing's fond memories of his Horse Cave art showing where the paintings were hung in a tobacco warehouse with white sheets, softly billowing, serving as backdrops. The final product of this team effort is a new museum and landscape that is very evocative of its Kentucky roots and seems very much at home in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Founded in 1992 by Jerry Baker, The Baker Arboretum now covers 115 acres. Working with the tree and art collections, landscape architect Mitchell Leichhardt designed a tapestry of trees and art. Built on a ridge of rolling hills in the outskirts of Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Downing Museum's architectural structure allows for lovely views of the Arboretum while inside—complementing the exquisite art of Joe Downing.