Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
Tropical Forest

The 12,000-square-foot Tropical Forest addition represents completion of Phase II of the most ambitious expansion project undertaken at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens since 1893.

IKM led the design team to create a revolutionary design that balances the latest eco-technology and exquisite horticulture in a dramatic new glass house. The design captures the sun’s path as it travels across the site overlooking the south-facing plaza and the lower boundaries of Schenley Park, in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Reaching 60 feet in height, the current horticultural display takes visitors through cascading waterfalls, gushing streams, calm pools, and hidden grottos. A walkway that projects into the forest canopy provides dramatic, panoramic views over the Conservatory below and to the local landscape beyond the glass walls.  In the ground-level Palm Circle as many as 40 visitors can gather for presentations and programs and learn from staffers about the building’s use of ancient and innovative technologies.

Like the silver LEED Certified Welcome Center addition, the Tropical Forest Conservatory employs a sustainable design approach including a number of architectural and mechanical features to provide optimal conditions for the plants and visitors with a minimum of energy use. As an organization, Phipps is passionate about protecting the global environment and believes they must set an example through their more sustainable operations.

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