NATO Tower Looks Over the Garden Once Again
Surrounded by majestic redwoods and blue atlas cedars this spot is centrally located in the Garden. At the top of the overlook, NATO Tower provides a bird’s-eye view of much of the Garden. The tower and overlook are named in honor of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which has its North American headquarters here in Norfolk.
Nato Tower, which originally was going to just be a hill, was created as the result of soil relocation from 1958 – 1962 which turned the flat terrain in Norfolk Botanical Garden into the hills and canals we enjoy today. The location was created to honor Norfolk’s role in the organization of the 15 original countries of which it is headquarters. After 35 years of use, the tower was forced to close in 1994 because of excessive deterioration and decay of the main platform and stairway due to weather exposure. In 1997, the U.S Navy’s Seabees Battalion Four began repairs and the Towerwas reopened for public enjoyment later that year.
The latest infrastructure improvement began in early 2019 with the complete refurbishment of NATO Tower and re-building its supporting hill using gabion walls which are created from geotechnical fabric that is attached to a rock-filled wired cage. The wall was then covered by 194 decorative concrete panels that are designed and installed at different depths, giving NATO Hill a new modern look that is sure to last for many decades to come. In addition, the wall features a multitude of planting pockets which allows gardens to grow at all levels along the wall and provides entry into the tower by steps and a ramp so that all may enjoy the birds-eye view of the largest botanical garden in Virginia.