VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre
Vancouver, British Columbia
Photo Credit: Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture Inc.
Initial Research by: Dicong Yang
Edited by: Samantha Miller & Nicole Brekelmans
Case study compiled in 2019
Project: VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre
Type of Urban Strategy: Sustainable Design
Type of Project: Research Facility
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Date Designed/Planned: 2007
Construction Completed: 2011
Designer: Landscape: Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture Inc. with Cornelia Hahn Oberlander
Architecture: Perkins + Will Canada
Due to the wear of original buildings and the demand to upgrade the entrance, the new visitor centre and surrounding landscapes needed to be redesigned. The garden is operated by both the City of Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, and the Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association (a non-profit organization). The two organizations have been working together for over forty years in hopes of making the VanDusen Botanical Garden cherished by Vancouver residents and visitors, as well as making it renowned internationally.
The VBGA was created in 1966 by a group of gardeners that were enthusiastic about creating a public garden built on the site of the former Shaughnessy Golf Course, and finally, the garden opened in 1975.
(VanDusen Botanical Garden, n.d.)
The golf course was one of the city’s first golf courses, previously owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. The golf course was planned to be turned into a housing development, but a group of citizens reached out to the Vancouver Park Board to set aside 22 hectares of the site to be turned into a botanical garden.
The Botanical Garden is a 55-acre garden in the heart of Vancouver, housing over 7500 plant species from all over the year. The garden includes a multi-award winning LEED Platinum Visitor Centre, that was named the Most Sustainable Building of the Year in 2014. The design is intended to look like an orchid from above, with its organic lines that are inspired by nature and conservation. The mild Vancouver climate allows the garden to thrive at any time of the year.
(City of Vancouver, n.d.)
Project Budget: $21.9 million CAD
Construction Budget: $14.4 million CAD
Project Area: 17,000 SM (183,000 SF)
Building Area: 1,765 SM (19,000 SF)
Sustainability Targets: Living Building Challenge LEED® New Construction: 1.0 Platinum Registered Visitor Center
Located in the heart of Downtown Vancouver, The VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center is in southeast corner of the garden.
The Visitor Center perfectly achieves the visual and ecological function unity between the architecture and landscapes. The shape of the building comes from the leaves and flower of an orchid, while the green roof landscape on the building extends to the ground through the ramp, blending into the surrounding environment (Greenroofs, 2018).
PROJECT BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
GOAL OF THE PROJECT
The goal of the project is to create a sustainable and resource-recycling building system and landscape environment that enables net-zero energy, at the same time providing better services to tourists (Canada Wood Council, 2012).
- Beauty: attract more tourists and increase entertainment
- Recovery: enhance the function and aesthetics of the building and landscape
- Sustainability: the regeneration system of resources and the improvement of biodiversity
DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, AND DECISION MAKING PROCESS
ROLE OF DESIGNERS
The project team set the goal of achieving Living Building Challenge and LEED certification at the beginning of the design, influencing the material selection and the build of an ecological system. The project team was able to integrate natural and human systems, restoring biodiversity and ecological balance to the site. (International Living Future Institute, n.d)
The new VanDusen Visitor Centre blends perfectly with the Botanical Gardens and the surrounding environment, attracting visitors of all ages. The resource regeneration system of the building and green roofs provides a long-term and enduring green space for the garden, continuing to create economic and ecological benefits until the next century (Canada Wood Council, 2012).
Some of the programmed elements include:
-Water System: improved existing water ecosystem; increased wetlands vegetation; provides habitats for fauna
-Meadow System: added green roofs; planted long grasses
-Forest System: Increased biodiversity; protects existing valuable trees; controls rain run-off
-Energy Imperative: Set solar photovoltaic array and solar hot water tubes; stores energies; decreases electrical energy consumption
-Healthy Material: use healthier and durable construction materials; use wood through the building; enhances ventilation; choose recycled waste materials for bridge and benches making
MAINTENANCE + MANAGEMENT
The VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre is designed to operate as a self-sustaining system to achieve ‘net-zero energy.’ The visitor centre has both passive and active systems which encourage the reuse of renewable resources and wastes (Irina, 2012). The design helps the low maintenance and less management.
Canada Wood Council, 2012. VanDusen Visitor Centre. [pdf] Available at: [Accessed 26 January, 2019].
Greenroofs, 2018. VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 January, 2019].
International Living Future Institute, n.d. VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 January, 2019].
Irina, V., 2012. VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 January, 2019].