Georgeson Botanical Garden construction aims to improve accessibility, layout

Two people construct a path in the garden
Courtesy of Georgeson Botanical Garden
Workers build a new pedestrian corridor in Georgeson Botanical Garden, which will improve accessibility, unify the linear structure of the garden and add nodes for interpretation.

Katie DiCristina

Sept. 26, 2022

A major construction project at the Georgeson Botanical Garden is updating the main pedestrian corridor to improve accessibility, strengthening the linear nature of the garden and visually unifying it. Nodes will improve navigation, interpretation and resting spaces.

The five-acre garden, established in 1989, is located on the Fairbanks Experiment Farm on the west side of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Troth Yeddha’ campus.

The seed for the pedestrian upgrade was planted in 2018 with creation of the garden’s long-range plan. Members of the American Society of Landscape Architects-Alaska Chapter donated their time and expertise to work with stakeholders, garden managers and the Georgeson Botanical Garden Friends group to develop an updated vision for the garden. It set the stage for a cascade of donor-supported projects.

The long-range plan inspired a contribution from Design Alaska, a longtime supporter. The company created a design concept plan to further develop the pedestrian corridor component in the overall long-range plan.

The project leaped from concept to reality when Becky and Marv Hassebroek donated all the funding for construction plans and installation of the new pedestrian corridor. This was a spectacular contribution to the Fairbanks community and all visitors to the garden.

“It is our hope that our investment will lead to increased revenue for the garden through expanded visitation, public and private donations, and community functions,” the Hassebroeks said. “We have already seen this happen! Please join us — this is only the beginning to a wonderful future for the garden.”

To complete this project, the Rasmuson Foundation donated funds to install a critical service pathway that will increase safety for all visitors. The pathway will run parallel to the pedestrian corridor but higher on the hillside. It will accommodate the large service vehicles that need to access the far reaches of the garden frequently throughout the summer visitor months. The service pathway will likely be installed in spring 2023.

“The safety of visitors and staff in the garden is of paramount importance, and Rasmuson Foundation is happy to be part of the solution,” said Deborah Vo, program officer at the foundation.

The Georgeson Botanical Garden has more than 10,000 visitors — local, national and international — annually and serves as a gateway to UAF. The garden is supported largely by donations and the fundraising efforts of the GBG Friends.

Katie DiCristina is manager of Georgeson Botanical Garden.