Located on the campus of the General Theological Seminary in New York’s historic Chelsea neighborhood, the Desmond Tutu Center was the home of The Center for Peace and Reconciliation which hosted conferences and seminars that emphasize lifelong learning and interfaith understanding. The entry garden contained a water rill lined with plantings and pool that anchors a fully accessible path leading through the garden to the front doors. Retaining walls adjacent the paths were made of rusting cor-ten steel that are reflective of the surrounding brownstone buildings.
Since completion of this project, the building has been renovated as a boutique hotel, now called the Highline Hotel, which replaced the Tutu Center. The garden was adapted by Quennell Rothschild & Partners to provide expanded areas for a coffee bar and the Hotel entrance. The row of Zelkova trees which were planted as part of the Tutu Center development now are beautiful 8” caliper trees. These trees were carefully protected throughout the installation of permeable stabilized gravel pavement. An entirely new planting palette was designed consisting of lavender along the water rill and a simple green edging of Inkberry Holly with seasonal plantings. Moveable café tables and chairs sit on the gravel surface and a seasonal coffee truck, imported from Europe serves coffee outdoors.
Both iterations of this entry garden were reviewed and approved by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.