“A Game Changer”…“A Model for Sustainability”…”A Turning Point”…”Unbound by Convention”…”World Leading Green Building”…”Inspiring”…”Happy Plants.”
These were some of the goals set for this project that came out of an intensive Integrative Design Process involving over forty participants for the Desert Botanical Garden. The group worked together to determine the top 18 goals and then set about designing the master site plan through several workshops. Everyone participated in these exercises, from the architects, engineers, general contractors, Garden staff, board members, volunteers, biologists, and trustees. These events built trust and consensus. The client helped with the engineering, the engineers used creativity to help the designers, and staff helped design the buildings- all to ensure the project moved along swiftly, efficiently, and with the client’s best interests at heart.
Energy modelling and extensive costing scenarios provided the client and design team with information to make the very best decisions. As trust built within the team and to maximize efficiency, the client asked the design team to provide a design-build agreement to deliver Phase I. Solutions to complicated problems were found with ease through the ever apparent team-bond.
Phase I included $1m in site work for the entire horticulture center masterplan to be completed plus automated state-of-the-art greenhouses, break area, and education center. Plants are the central focus of the Garden, thus the greenhouses are placed at center. Its 24’x24’ grid extended over the site to provide future shading of paths and buildings to reduce overall site heat gain. The greenhouses are clad in energy-saving polycarbonate cladding, which unlike glass diffuses light for greater plant health. Thus other buildings are also clad with polycarbonate in deference to the greenhouses and able to provide diffused light to interior spaces.
Greenhouses have layers of operability to provide an optimum environment for the special collections they house. Operable external louvers, operable roofs, operable internal shades, evaporative cooling, heating, and fans are all be adjusted individually for each bay. A control system allows staff to set parameters such as temperature, humidity, and lighting levels which are sensed and controlled automatically to keep levels optimal for plant health and save energy.
Salvaged materials are used throughout to reduce waste/cost and a powerful “Great-Wall” of giant boulders divides the site between public and operational areas. Water collection is demonstrated throughout the site for various uses. Close proximity to native landscapes are provided in the interstitial spaces. Happy plants and staff achieved, along with a sense of desert harmony.
Photography by Bill Timmerman.