VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre

Vancouver, British Columbia

Photo Credit: Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture Inc.

CASE STUDY

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 StrategySustainable Design 

Type of ProjectResearch Facility 

LocationVancouver, British Columbia

Date Designed/Planned: 2007

Construction Completed 2011

DesignerLandscape: 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.)

 

CONTEXT


In 2007, the design team of Perkins + Will and Cornelia Hahn Oberlander were chosen by the government to develop the new landscapes and buildings for the 55 cultivated acres Botanical Garden. The project creates a sustainable and resource-recycling building system and landscape environment that enables net-zero energy, at the same time, provides better services to tourists.




FUNDING


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




SITE ANALYSIS


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


In early 1971, the VanDusen Botanical Garden opened to the public as a platform for the city to display vegetation species and the vital role of plants. However, by the year 2000, due to the wear of original buildings and the demand to upgrade the entrance, the new visitor center and surrounding landscapes were proposed to be redesigned (Canada Wood Council, 2012). The redesign aimed to attract more tourists, to enhance the sustainability of the site and to protect and encourage biodiversity. Therefore, in 2007, the design team of Perkins + Will and Cornelia Hahn Oberlander were chosen by the government to develop the new landscapes and buildings for the 55 cultivated acres Botanical Garden (Greenroofs, 2018).




THE CHALLENGE


The challenge of the project comes from the balance between architecture and landscape, and technologies to regenerate resources and energies, and to achieve ‘net-zero energy’ annually. The slope of the building spans from 2 to 50 degrees, so the sustainable green roof is also a significant problem (Greenroofs, 2018). To reach the level of the Living Building Challenge, the choice and installation of materials is particularly important (Canada Wood Council, 2012).




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


The inspiration for the design of the building came from orchid petals, which they recreated with wood material which can store carbon dioxide. Planted meadows cover the undulating roof, connected to the ground through ramps, encouraging local fauna to use and promote biodiversity. Three green roof systems were used due to the different slopes of the building roof. On the low sloped land bridge roof, the "ZinCo Perennial Garden" with the Floradrain FD40 and 20 cm of the 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 (Greenroofs, 2018). They installed energy storage equipment on the roof for energy collection and heat regeneration. Rainwater is stored and filtered and reused, 100% of the blackwater discharges to the permeate field of the garden after treatment. 96% of the old material wastes was dismantled and reused to reach the goal of 'net-zero energy' site.




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)




PROJECT IMPACT


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).




PROGRAMMED ELEMENTS


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.




CITATIONS


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].





 

EDITOR

 

Samantha Miller

Nicole Brekelmans

Zoe Goldman

Desiree Theriault

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