VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre
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Photo: Perkins+WillProject Name: VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre
Year: 2011
Owner: City of Vancouver
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Building Type: Educational
Type: Semi-Intensive
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 17222 sq.ft.
Slope: 70%
Access: Inaccessible, Open to Public
Submitted by: ZinCo Canada, Inc. &

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:
Architect: Perkins+Will
Landscape Architect: Cornelia Oberlander with Sharp and Diamond Landscape Architects
Structural Engineer: Fast + EPP Engineers
Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: Cobalt Engineers
Civil Engineer: Binnie Engineers
Ecologist: Nick Page
Greenroof System: ZinCo
Greenroof System Supplier: ZinCo Canada Inc.
Consultant: Architek Sustainable Building Products
Greenroof Contractor: Houston Landscapes
Waterproofing: Soprema
Roofing Contractor: Metro
Construction Management: Ledcor
Photo Courtesy of ZinCo CanadaPhoto Courtesy of ZinCo CanadaPhoto Courtesy of ZinCo Canada
In early December 2007 the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation together with the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association selected the design team of Busby Perkins + Will and landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander to develop a Master Plan for the Garden of 55 cultivated acres.

The LEED Platinum Certified VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre uses renewable sources found on-site to meet net-zero energy annually and the primary building material is wood which stores carbon dioxide for the life of the building. Photovoltaics on the roof create electricity for the Centre, and hot water is provided by a biomass boiler fed by dry wood waste reclaimed from the surrounding area. Rainwater is filtered and used for the Centre's greywater requirements; 100% of blackwater is treated by the on-site bioreactor, the first of its kind in Vancouver, and discharged to a new percolation field in the garden.

The design of the VanDusen Botanical Garden's Visitor Centre was inspired by the leaves and flower of an orchid. The undulating green roofs are located on the "petals" and are planted with grasses and colourful bulbs. The building is designed to exceed LEED Platinum standards and is one of the first buildings in Canada to get certified under the Living Building Challenge.
Constructing the cone; Photo Courtesy of ZinCo CanadaPhoto: Perkins+Will
"Inspired by organic forms and natural systems, the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre seeks to create a harmonious balance between architecture and landscape, from a visual and an ecological perspective. The dynamic single-story structure includes an innovative prefabricated roof form that appears to float above the building's curved rammed earth and concrete walls. Metaphorically representing undulating petals, the building form flows seamlessly into a central oculus and the surrounding landscape.

Located on the Garden's prominent southeast corner, the 19,000 square foot Visitor Centre transforms the site's entrance to heighten public awareness of the Garden, its conservation mandate, and the importance of nature. The building houses a cafe, library, volunteer facilities, garden shop, offices, and flexible classroom/rental spaces," (Perkins+Will).

With slopes ranging from 2 degrees to 50 degrees, this project used three different green roof systems. On the low sloped land bridge roof the "ZinCo Perennial Garden" with the Floradrain FD40 and 20 cm of growing medium was installed. The sloped petals green roofs where constructed with the "ZinCo Sloping Meadow" system including the Floraset FS75 and 20 cm of growing medium. And the oculus roof with a slope of more than 45 degrees was installed with the "ZinCo Steep Sloping Meadow" system including the Georaster elements and 12 cm of growing medium. The entire green roof was hydroseeded with local grasses and planted with bulbs native to the area.

On May 16, 2016, the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre received Living Building Challenge™ (LBC) Petal Certification by the International Living Future Institute. Awards: 2014 World Architecture Most Sustainable Building Award; 2014 SAB Green Building Award; 2013 International Green Roof Association, Green Roof Leadership Award; Awards for Environmental Excellence, Excellence in Urban Sustainability Finalist, 2013 GLOBE; Wood Innovation Award, 2013; 2013 Wood WORKS! BC Wood Design Awards; Engineering Award Winner, 2012 World Architecture News; Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia Merit Award, 2012 Architectural Institute of British Columbia.

Additional thumbnail photos:

Photo: Perkins+WillGraphic: Perkins+WillPhoto: Perkins+WillPhoto: Perkins+WillPhoto: Sharp and Diamond Landscape Architects
The VanDusen Botanical Garden is located at 5251 Oak Street (37th & Oak St.), Vancouver, British Columbia V6M 4H1; 604.257.8335; - read about the new Visitor Centre here. See the project profiles from Perkins+Will and Connect Landscape Architecture (formerly Sharp and Diamond Landscape Architects). Watch the installation of the VanDusen greenroof through timelapse photography from Projects in Place Society with Houston Landscapes and the wonderful VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre as seen at the Vancouver Art Gallery, WE: Vancouver --12 Manifestos for the City 8:59 video by BusbyPerkins+Will on YouTube. See photos at Flickr by VanDusen Gardens.

Read the May 16, 2016
Perkins+Will Achieves First Living Building Challenge Certification Press Release; March 21, 2012 Canada's Gorgeous Green-Roofed VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre Now Open to the Public by Diane Pham in Inhabitat; Winter 2011 Design in Boom: The VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre by Amanda Jun in MONTECRISTO; and October 21, 2011 VanDusen's $21.9 million Visitor Centre opens by Steve Whysall in the Vancouver Sun.

Read about
ZinCo GmbH in the Greenroof & Greenwall Directory. For more information contact ZinCo Canada at: 905.690.1661,, or visit
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