Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Welcome Center
   
Photo Courtesy of Ellen James, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical GardensProject Name: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Welcome Center
Year: 2005
Owner: Phipps Conservatory, Inc.
Location: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Building Type: Non-Profit
Type: Intensive
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 10000 sq.ft.
Slope: 5%
Access: Accessible, Open to Public
Submitted by:

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:
Architect: IKM
General Contractor: Turner Construction Company
Waterproofing: Firestone Building Products
Greenroof System: Soprema
Greenhouse Consultant: Montgomery Smith Inc.
Photo Courtesy of Ellen James, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical GardensPhoto Courtesy of Ellen James, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens; Photo by Alexander Denmarsh PhotographyPhoto Courtesy of Ellen James, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Known fondly as "The Green Heart of Pittsburgh," the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a nonprofit, 14-room glasshouse public garden originally built in 1893. In 2005, the new $5 million, 11,454 sf Phipps Welcome Center was sited partially underground as an energy-conserving earth-sheltered structure. Its front entrance walkway slopes gently down to the 14 ft below-grade main level; the structure is the first LEED? certified visitor center in a public garden (LEED-NC Silver, 2006). "A 34-foot high glass dome crowns the Welcome Center, evoking the geometry of the historic glass houses. This splendid, fritted-glass dome above a central atrium solves the need for natural light, which illuminates the lobby, ticketing areas, gift shop and caf?, thereby reducing the need for artificial lighting," (website).

In 2006, the Phipps Tropical Forest Conservatory was constructed to house tropical flora, two waterfalls, a canopy-layer walkway, public gathering spaces and educational discovery areas. The current project is the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, a $2.6 million education, research and administration building. This signature project of Phase III of Phipps? multiyear expansion is designed to exceed LEED Platinum standards; it will inlcude greenroof trial gardens and generate its own energy with renewable resources. In 2008, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens received first-place in eco-structure?s inaugural Evergreen Awards? ?ecommercial? category.
Photo Courtesy of Ellen James, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical GardensPhoto Courtesy of Ellen James, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
The design of the Welcome Center is saving up to 40% in energy costs, 22% over the required level for Silver-LEED certification. "A wall of laminated, insulated windows runs the length of the concave courtyard and controls glare and heat. Low- or no-VOC paints complement the sustainable products. To increase passive energy savings, the glass dome is vented to help cool the building. Air conditioning is only required below grade level. A green roof surrounding the glass dome provides a heat sink to enhance the building?s efficient climate control system," (AIArchitect This Week, 2006).

"Phipps has become one of the world's most energy efficient and sustainable conservatories, serving as a model for visitors and other public gardens. Green building design couple with sustainable operations and practices to create an environment committed to conservation and biodiversity," (website, see below).

Additional thumbnail photos:

Photo Courtesy of Ellen James, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens; Photo by Alexander Denmarsh PhotographyPhoto Courtesy of Ellen James, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical GardensA gorgeous entrance, embraced in green! Photo Courtesy of Ellen James, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical GardensPhoto Courtesy of Ellen James, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical GardensPhoto Courtesy of Ellen James, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is located at One Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; 412.622.6914. Learn more about their sustainable buildings and practices here, and download the "Phipps? LEED?-certified Welcome Center" PDF. Read the: August 3, 2009 G-20 opening reception, working dinner at Phipps Conservatory Sept. 24 by Bonnie Pfister; Fall 2008 Living Building by Jeffrey Fraser in h magazine (this has a great Living Machine graphic of the site); October, 2008 New Window To The World by KJ Fields in eco-structure magazine; and the November 10, 2006 Growing Green at Conservatory, Botanical Garden Welcome Center by Tracy Ostroff in AIArchitect this Week.
 
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