Project presented: VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center

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VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center
Vancouver, BC, Canada
17,222 sq. Ft. Green roof

Featured Project of Greenroofs.com August 10, 2021

We chose the simply lovely VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center as featured project in tribute to the late pioneer of sustainable design Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, who died in May shortly before her 100th birthday. Cornelia moved to the United States after her family escaped Nazi Germany, and after studying landscape architecture at Harvard, she later adopted British Columbia, Canada, as her home. It has many sensitively designed works of landscape architecture, including many large scale green roofs.

Image: Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, courtesy of Foundation of the cultural landscape.

Cornelia and architect Peter Busby (Director of Busby, Will + Perkins Architects) took inspiration for the VanDusen project from a native orchid and designed the living roof as organic petal shapes. And at the normally tender age of 90, she put every plant on top of this fantastic project! The culmination of 70 years of work and research, the new $ 100,000 Oberlander Prize from the Cultural Landscape Foundation will be inaugurated at the end of this year, named after Cornelia’s renowned groundbreaking work.

Discover her incredible life in Landscape Architecture Magazine’s In Memoriam: Cornelia Hahn Oberlander (congratulations on a wonderful story from a wonderful person!).

VanDusen Garden Visitor Center

VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center. Graphics: Perkins + Will

VanDusen Garden Visitor Center

Solar fireplace. Image: Perkins + Will

Among the Centre’s many accolades is the 2014 World’s Most Sustainable Building in Architecture Award, which is not at all surprising given its visionary design and engineering.

VanDusen Garden Visitor Center

And with yesterday’s publication of Terrible Climate Change 2021: The Basis of Physical Sciences. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), recognizing and demanding that our built environment must be achieved not only with sustainable design, but regenerative design is a must if we have a clear potential hope of bringing our planet (well, humans) back from the brink of climate catastrophe!

With all of its many design virtues, the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center truly stands out as a living building embracing biomimicry ~ you can also see my video “Top 10 Eco-Agents of Green Infrastructure in a Changing World Which I presented at our 2017 Greenroofs & Walls of the World ™ Virtual Summit.

VanDusen Garden Visitor Center

The VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center was featured in Greenroofs & Walls of the World ™ 2014 calendar from Greenroofs.com. Photo courtesy of ZinCo Canada

Extract from the profile of the Greenroofs.com project:

Located in the heart of Vancouver, British Columbia, the spectacular 22-hectare (55-acre) VanDusen Botanical Garden is internationally recognized for its beauty and leadership in plant conservation, biodiversity and sustainability. Exceeding LEED Platinum standards, the Living Building Challenge-certified VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center uses renewable sources found on-site to achieve net zero energy consumption each year.

The photovoltaic system on the roof creates electricity for the Center, and the hot water is supplied by a biomass boiler fueled by dry wood waste collected in the surrounding area. Rainwater is filtered and used for the gray water needs of the Center; 100% of black water is treated by the site’s bioreactor.

VanDusen Garden Visitor Center

Image: Architek

Designed by Perkins + Will and Cornelia Oberlander with landscape architects Sharp and Diamond (now Connect Landscape Architecture), the dynamic one-story structure features an innovative prefabricated roof form that appears to float above the curved rammed earth and concrete walls of the building.

The Center was inspired by the leaves and the flower of an orchid. The wavy green roofs are located on the “petals” and are planted with colorful grasses and bulbs.

VanDusen Garden Visitor Center

Image: VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center (in 2016) via International Living Future Institute

The circular space of the multi-petal structure is surmounted by a daylit oculus with a slope of over 45 degrees which also serves as a solar chimney that expels hot air.

With slopes ranging from 2 degrees to 50 degrees, this project used three different green roof systems: the “ZinCo Perennial Garden”, “ZinCo Sloping Meadow” and the oculus roof with a slope of more than 45 degrees which was installed. with the “ZinCo Steep Sloping Meadow” including Georaster elements for growing support retention.

VanDusen Garden Visitor Center

Image: Connecting landscape architecture

VanDusen Garden Visitor Center

VanDusen rendering via ZinCo Canada.

The vegetated earth ramp connects the green roof to the ground plan, promoting use by local fauna and promoting biodiversity.

The award-winning VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center is a veritable living building embracing bio-mimicry and is open to the public every day.

VanDusen Garden Visitor Center

VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center. Photo courtesy of ZinCo Canada

Year: 2011
Owner: City of Vancouver
Place: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Type of building: Educative
Type: Semi intensive
System: Single source provider
Cut: 17,222 sq.ft.
Slope: 2 – 50 °
To access: Inaccessible, Open to the public

VanDusen Garden Visitor Center

VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center. Photo source: Projects In Place Society

Credits:

ARCHITECT:
PERKINS + WILL

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT:
CORNELIA OBERLANDER WITH SHARP AND DIAMOND LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS (NOW CONNECT THE)

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER:
FAST + EPP ENGINEERS

MECHANICAL AND ELECTRICAL ENGINEER:
COBALT ENGINEERS

CIVIL ENGINEER:
BINNIE ENGINEERS

ECOLOGIST:
NICK PAGE

GREENROOF SYSTEM:
ZINCO

GREENROOF SYSTEM PROVIDER:
ZINCO CANADA INC.

CONSULTANT:
ARCHITEK SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION PRODUCTS

GREENROOF ENTREPRENEUR:
HOUSTON LANDSCAPES

WATERPROOFING:
SOPREMA

ROOFING CONTRACTOR:
METRO

CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT:
LEDCOR

VanDusen Garden Visitor Center

VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center. Photo courtesy of ZinCo Canada

See the project profile

To see the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center Project Profile to look at ALL photos and additional information on this particular project in the Greenroofs.com project database.

VanDusen Garden Visitor Center

Image: Architek

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Love the earth, plant a roof (or a wall)!

By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP
Editor Greenroofs.com and host of Greenroofs & Walls of the World ™ virtual summits


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