VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre

VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre

Vancouver, BC

Award Winner
Connect Landscape Architecture

Project Team

Acoustics: BKL Consultants Ltd
Green Roof Advisor/Supplier: Jelle Vonk, Zinco Canada
Architect: Jim Huffman, Perkins + Will Canada
Building Envelope: Sophie Mercier, Morrison Hershfield
Civil Engineer: RJ Binnie & Associates
Client: Harry Jongerdon, VanDusen Botanical Garden; John Ross, Vancouver Parks Board
Construction Manager: Rebecca McDiarmid, Ledcor Construction
Landscape Architects: Cornelia Hahn Oberlander; Ken Larsson, Connect Landscape Architecture, Inc
Landscape Contractor: Jeremy Miller, Houston Landscapes
Living Roof Consultant & Supplier: Ron Schwenger, Architek
Mechanical/Electrical: Goran Ostojic, Integral Group
Membrane Installer: Metro Roofing
Membrane Supplier: Soprema
Structural Engineer: Duane Paibroda, Fast and Epp

The Musqueam people like all Aboriginal people throughout the world lived in harmony with nature. We have respect for all life: we respect the plants that provide the medicines that heal our body; give our body nourishment through the foods that we eat; that clean the soil and water; and clean the air that we breathe.
— Jeri Sparrow, Musqueam Elder, Opening Prayer Speech

Reconnecting People to Modern Environmental Concerns

The state-of-the-art Visitor Centre re-connects people to the environmental issues of the 21st Century including water and energy conservation, re-use and recycle, beauty of our native plant ecology, and a healthier way of building and design. The overall scope was 5 acre site master plan including a 16,000-ft2 green and blue roof.

Inspired by the form of a native orchid leaf, the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre forges a unique relationship between architecture, landscape, and ecology to create a landmark facility. The dynamic roof is the cornerstone of the building’s water conservation strategy with six individual undulating roof petals; two blue roofs for water collection and solar hot water tubes and four petals planted with living roofs. The restorative planting strategy is inspired by the Pacific Northwest Coastal Grassland communities featuring custom fescue grasses with native perennial bulbs and sedums. 100 per cent of site runoff is managed on site for a net zero water runoff facility.

The roof itself is shaped and divided like the orchid leaves. The green roof was carefully planned to reflect the Pacific Northwest Coastal grassland community and includes over twenty species of native plants, bulbs, and grasses. The unique undulating roof planes simulate rolls and hummocks with gentle slopes of 5% to near vertical grades. The variety of solar orientation creates multiple opportunities for grassland/bulb plant communities.

Green roof runoff is directed to an existing stream, enhanced infiltration beds, and wetlands in addition to underground cistern. Key sitelines were established from the main arrival bridge, upper terrace, restaurant, and street and throughout the gardens to reinforce the importance of the roof to the image of the project. The project is certified for LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge (LBC) 2.0. The judges praised the project’s connection to greater site systems and integration of ecology and technology.