Plant Science Conservation Center

Distinguished Building Award Submission

The Plant Science Center treads lightly on the site, floating above the floodplain, respecting the natural topography. Ten laboratories and researchers’ offices are the primary programmatic elements along with a herbarium, a seed vault, seminar and conference rooms, and a library. All of the educational spaces have a direct connection to nature, emphasizing the basis of the research.

A critical design objective was to make the science of plant research accessible to the public. Thus, the building is designed from the “inside-out” around a central public viewing gallery. The two-story gallery runs the length of the building, with clerestory windows filling the space with natural light. Continuous windows line both sides of the gallery, allowing the public to view researchers in the laboratories. Hands-on exhibits engage visitors and provide information about the Garden’s research and the importance of plants in everyday life. From the gallery, visitors ascend a grand staircase, and access an experimental research green roof.

A sloped office ceiling design with clerestory windows allows daylight to extend deep into the interiors and the open office areas. Scientists’ offices are located along the building perimeter, encouraging that initial “spark” of creativity and discovery that comes from nature.

Booth Hansen
  • Gary Wiss, Inc.
  • Grumman / Butkus Associates
  • Oehme, van Sweden & Associates
General contractor
Featherstone, Inc.
Glencoe, IL