Weiss/Manfredi - Longwood Gardens West Conservatory, journey from lush formal gardens to open meadows
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Longwood Gardens West Conservatory, journey from lush formal gardens to open meadows

Weiss/Manfredi

Culture  /  Future
Weiss/Manfredi

Sitting atop a topographically dramatic ridge of the Brandywine Valley, the design for the new conservatory marries landscape and architecture. Built on the great 19th century tradition of glasshouses and enhanced with new, sustainable technologies, the new 32,000-square-foot West Conservatory’s pleated and undulating glass roof reconciles the legacy of the Burnham production greenhouses with a new garden under glass that shelters the plants inside and opens to the sweeping drama of the surrounding Brandywine Valley meadows.

Emerging from the topography of the Brandywine Valley, the new West Conservatory sits atop a topographically dramatic ridge and hovers over a rectangular pool of water. The Conservatory’s crystalline silhouette, doubled by its reflection in the water, amplifies the surrounding landscape’s impact. The Conservatory’s design was carefully executed to preserve and enhance existing nature and plant life, such as the historic London Plane heritage trees. The West Conservatory, with new accessible entry points connecting west to east that knit together the historic and new parts of the conservatory complex, will offer a unified yet continually varied journey from lush formal gardens to open meadows.

As a living and breathing building with climate activated walls and roofs, the Conservatory sustains the interior garden’s natural beauty while also providing opportunities for research and revelation. The structure, supported by a series of curved non-repetitive moment-frames, foregrounds passive systems to achieve thermal balance; operable windows and shutters for natural ventilation, an automated shading system, a thermal blanket, earth ducts, and a geothermal ground source heat pump system are collectively coordinated. Stormwater is collected and reclaimed for project-wide use. Just as the plants inside the Conservatory are nourished by light, air, and water, so too is this living, breathing building animated by these very same elements.

The West Conservatory, a crystalline structure with a pleated and undulating glass roof, replaces an ad hoc collection of obsolete green houses with a new garden experience, accessible to visitors of all abilities, and will host a series of ambitious educational programs. The visitor experience is envisioned as a unified but continually varied journey from the interiority of a reimagined conservatory to expansive terraces with views over the open meadows of Pennsylvania's Brandywine Valley. By anticipating climate change, the conservatory will house botanic arrangements that thrive in extremes, such as very hot or very wet climates. The Conservatory islands amid canals and fountains enable plants to thrive in a controlled environment. As a living and breathing building with climate activated walls and roofs, the Conservatory sustains the interior garden’s natural beauty while also providing opportunities for research and revelation. The structure, supported by a series of curved non-repetitive moment-frames, foregrounds passive systems to achieve thermal balance: operable windows and shutters for natural ventilation, an automated shading system, a thermal blanket, earth ducts, and a geothermal ground source heat pump system are collectively coordinated. Stormwater is collected and reclaimed for project-wide use. Just as the plants inside the Conservatory are nourished by light, air, and water, the building is animated by these very same elements.

“…Marrying architecture and engineering with the love of plants and beautiful display: that’s uniquely Longwood. And we are doing that with the new conservatory in a way that’s exciting and contemporary for the 21st century—but we are also honoring that past and Longwood’s legacy of 19th century glasshouses.” -Paul B. Redman, President and CEO of Longwood Gardens.

Credits

 Kennett Square
 Pennsylvania, USA
 Longwood Gardens Committee
 Cultural, education, recreation
 09/2024
 29723 mq
  60,000,000.00 $
 Weiss/Manfredi Architects
 Marion Weiss and Michael A. Manfredi (Design Partners), Todd Hoehn (Principal), Patrick Armacost (Principal, Masterplan), Joseph Vessell, Andrew Ruggles, Justin Kwok (Senior Project Architects). Project Team: Eileen Witte, Sergio Saucedo, Tomoko Akiba, Heather McArthur, Jackie Krasnokutskaya, Hyon Woo Scott Chung, Don David, Kerry O’Connor, Daniel Martinez, Kim Steiner, Michael Steiner, Mike Harshman, Andreas Hausler, Thomas Baker, Matthew G. Ferraro, Dongxiao Cheng
 Construction Management Company: Bancroft Construction Company
 Civil Engineer: Pennoni Associates, Inc.; MEP Consulting Engineer: Jaros Baum & Bolles; Landscape: Reed Hilderbrand; Structural: Magnussen Klemencic Associates; Preservation Consultant: John Milner Architects; Environmental Design Consultant: Atelier Ten
 Weiss/Manfredi, Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture

Curriculum

WEISS/MANFREDI, Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, is a New York City-based multidisciplinary practice known for the dynamic integration of architecture, art, infrastructure, and landscape. Founded by Marion Weiss and Michael A. Manfredi, notable projects include the Seattle Art Museum: Olympic Sculpture Park, the Baker Museum renovation and expansion in Naples, Florida, the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center. Current projects include the Tampa Museum of Art expansion, the US Embassy in New Delhi, India, as well as the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum Master Plan in Los Angeles. Work by Weiss/Manfredi has been showcased at the Venice Biennale, the Guggenheim Museum, the Cooper-Hewitt, the National Building Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art. The firm was recognized with the Architectural League’s Emerging Voices Award, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, and the 2020 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal.

https://www.weissmanfredi.com/


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