Progress is being steadily made on the the expansion the Liu Fang Yua—the Garden of Flowing Fragrance—at the The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
Officials at San Mateo-based Huntington provided the update nearly one year after the groundbreaking of the project, which is the final phase of its Chinese Garden redevelopment. Once completed in May 2020, the Liu Fang Yuan will increase the garden’s original 3.5 acre footprint to its long-planned 12 acres, making it one of the largest classical-style Chinese gardens in the world.
Liu Fang Yuan opened in 2008 with eight tile-roofed pavilions situated around a one-acre lake. In 2014, two new pavilions and a rock grotto were added.
According to The Huntington, one of the key elements of this final phase is an exhibition complex at the north end of the garden. Comprising a traditional scholar’s studio and an art gallery for changing displays, it will dramatically expand the possibilities for programming related to the garden.
A new, larger café with outdoor seating will also be located in this northern section (the existing, smaller café will serve tea and small bites), and a stream-side corridor and pavilion will offer scenic views. At the southern end of the lake, a hillside pavilion situated on the highest point in the garden will offer a view of the Mt. Wilson Observatory in the distance. To the west, an event space for larger gatherings will overlook the lake, and a courtyard complex will showcase displays of penjing (miniature landscapes similar to Japanese bonsai).
As with the earlier stages of the garden’s construction, this project is an international partnership between Chinese and American architects, contractors, and craftsmen.
More than 50 Chinese artisans from the Suzhou Garden Development Company are spending six months at The Huntington doing specialized carpentry, masonry, and tile work for the traditional structures in the final phase.
Los Angeles architect Jim Fry developed the detailed construction plans for the expansion, based on the conceptual designs of the Suzhou Institute of Landscape Architecture Design in China. The Irvine-based construction engineering firm of Snyder Langston is overseeing building construction; BrightView of Calabasas is the landscape contractor.
The total cost of this final phase is approximately $24 million, of which more than $23.5 million has been raised. This brings the combined total cost of the garden to about $54 million, all of which was raised from individual, corporate, and foundation gifts.