Center achieves LEED Silver

Pittsburgh-based architecture firm IKM Incorporated’s design for the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens includes a 34 ft high glass dome that crowns the new Welcome Center. The Welcome Center is situated in front of a 7,600 sq ft historic landmark glass house built in 1893. The new entranceway includes 11,000 sq ft of lobby, ticketing, gift shop and café spaces.

The conservatory dome is designed to evoke the geometry of the historic glass houses behind it and incorporates fritted, laminated, insulated glass to control glare and heat. The convex construction provides daylight to the visitor lobby and ticketing areas below and creates a dramatic ascent to the Conservatory beyond. Calling upon principles of sustainable design, the partially earth-sheltered structure was built into the terrain to create 14 ft of usable space below ground. By placing most of the new space below grade, IKM architects and the design team determined that the Conservatory would save as much as 40 to 50 percent in annual energy costs compared to an above grade building.

IKM also selected low or no VOC paints, adhesives, carpet and other materials to help achieve a LEED Silver Rating from the US Green Building Council. The new Welcome Center at Phipps Conservatory attempts to demonstrate that an environmentally friendly, sustainable design can be created in ways sympathetic to an historic setting. Writing in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the architecture critic concluded that ‘one thing is certain: at last Phipps has the entrance it has so long deserved.’

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