Monday night I had the pleasure of viewing the newly completed Caribbean Journey Exhibit. I am proud of what the Texas State Aquarium brings to our community and to be a partner in the construction of a facility that educates our youth about an ecosystem unlike our own and the value of its preservation.
The Caribbean Journey interior landscape is the most unique and challenging installation of my career. From achieving the ideal soil mix to plant maintenance in hard to reach areas, this project required research, critical thinking and team work. The “dream team” featured: Fulton Construction, Texas State Aquarium project representatives, world class designers and Gill’s.
Some of the challenges included:
- Mixing 300 yards of soil off site and ‘flying’ it in 1 yard bags through the open ceiling of the 3rd and 4th floors via crane prior to installation of the glass dome.
- Unloading plants shipped from Florida in refrigerator trucks and immediately lifting them by crane through an opening on the side of the 3rd and 4th floors of the building.
- Maneuvering large palms and trees into planting areas on the 3rd and 4th floors without heavy lifting equipment inside.
- Hand watering plants in hard to reach areas.
All this required careful thought and lots of muscle!
I knew this landscape would be home to birds, sloths, lizards and other critters. It would be natural, not polished and clipped. The mulch would be natural leaf litter. I’m thrilled to see plants typical of the Caribbean such as ‘Shady Lady’ Olives that love nice, moist soil and quickly drop all their leaves if they go dry. It’s a real treat to see orchids and bromeliads growing on palms and trees- their natural homes. And I must admit the request to plant a dead tree was a first for me!
In my opinion, this is a world class exhibit. Check it out!”