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Additional Resources

Visit the VanDusen Botanical Garden website; 604.257.8335. See photos at Flickr by VanDusen Gardens.

For more information contact: Ron Schwenger of Architek Sustainable Building Projects at:; ZinCo Canada at: or visit

Learn more about Architek SBP and Soprema in the Directory.

Case Studies

Perkins+Will; Connect Landscape Architecture (formerly Sharp and Diamond Landscape Architects); Architek; ZinCo; International Living Future Institute; ARCHITECT; Alucobond; City of Vancouver.


Watch the August 10, 2021 2:40 VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre – Featured Project video from on the greenroofsTV channel on YouTube; September 7, 2018 2:39 VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre by Perkins and Will on vimeo.

The VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre was a featured project at the 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit, highlighted in the “Top 10 Green Infrastructure Eco-Agents in a Climate-Changing World” video by Linda Velazquez. Watch the 2:40 VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre Project of the Week 5/30/17 video from on the greenroofsTV channel on YouTube.

See the installation of the VanDusen greenroof through time-lapse photography from the 1:33 Projects in Place Society with Houston Landscapes published on November 17, 2011; May 2, 2011 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.


August 10, 2021 Featured Project: VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre by Linda Velazquez in; May 31, 2021 Cornelia Oberlander’s Many Gifts to Vancouver by Susan Herrington in; Project of the Week May 30, 2017: VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre by Linda Velazquez; May 16, 2016 Perkins+Will Achieves First Living Building Challenge Certification Press Release; May 19, 2015 Can Regenerative Design Save the Planet? by Anthony Flint in Bloomberg CityLab;
September 17, 2013 VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre – Net-zero building designed to meet the Living Building Challenge system by Jim Huffman in Sustainable Architecture and Building Magazine; March 21, 2012 Canada’s Gorgeous Green-Roofed VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre Now Open to the Public by Diane Pham in Inhabitat; and October 21, 2011 VanDusen’s $21.9 million Visitor Centre opens by Steve Whysall in the Vancouver Sun.

Located in the heart of Vancouver, BC, the spectacular 22-hectare (55-acre) VanDusen Botanical Garden is renowned internationally for its beauty and for leadership in plant conservation, biodiversity and sustainability.

Opened in 1975, the Mission of the public VanDusen Botanical Garden is to inspire understanding of the vital importance of plants to all life through the excellence of our botanical collections, programs and practices.

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. Collaborating with Cornelia Oberlander was Sharp and Diamond Landscape Architects (now Connect Landscape Architecture).

The Certified Petal 2016 net-zero building was designed to meet the Living Building Challenge, one of the first buildings in Canada to receive this certification, and features include solar hot water, photovoltaic panels, geothermal borehole, and a beautiful living roof.

Designed to exceed LEED Platinum standards, the LEED® Canada-NC 1.0 Platinum Certified the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre uses renewable sources found on-site to meet net-zero energy annually. 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. 100% of water use comes from captured precipitation or reused water – rainwater is filtered and used for the Centre’s greywater requirements and 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 Vandusen Visitor’s Centre green roof had to meet Living Building Challenge standards, including no irrigation, and the green roof has been remarkably resilient over the years.” ~ Ron Schwenger, Architek Sustainable Building Projects, 2021

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 colorful bulbs. The multi-petaled structure’s circular space is topped by a daylit oculus with a slope over 45 degrees which also serves as a solar chimney that exhausts hot air. The vegetated land ramp connects the greenroof to the ground plane, encouraging use by local fauna and promoting biodiversity.

“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

Architek provided design-assist and installation supervision for the complex green roof systems. VanDusen has three distinct green roof sections: The Landbridge, a relatively flat semi-intensive area; The Petals where Architek employed a gentle slope engineered green roof system with shear barriers; and The Oculus – a steep slope area in the center which required Architek to employ custom shear barrier and soil erosion design.

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 were 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 include: 2017 Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Awards of Excellence; 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.

“The landmark Visitor Centre connects people to the environmental issues of the 21st Century including water and energy conservation, re-use and recycle, the beauty of our native plant ecology, and a healthier way of building and design.” ~ Connect Landscape Architecture

Its orchid-inspired roof design by the late iconic landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander (May 2021) embodies the biophilic nature of the VanDusen Visitor’s Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is a ground-breaking architectural marvel of living architecture with its green and blue roof. The Vancouver Parks Board is currently maintaining the VanDusen Visitor’s Centre green roofs.


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