Civic Community, Sustainability

VanDusen Visitor Centre

Dramatic Wood Structure Offers Gateway To The Gardens

At the Visitor Centre at VanDusen Botanical Garden, a wood-based construction system was utilized to create an iconic structure that would increase visibility and attract a younger demographic while adding facilities that would more adequately cater to user needs—including a café and flexible rental space for weddings and other events. The building’s unique organic form is based on the petal structure of a native British Columbia orchid. The roof undulations, which blend seamlessly and seem to grow from the surrounding landscape, represent flower petals, converging at a skylight above the central atrium. Designed to be ‘radically green,’ the building generates all of its required energy on site and is seeking both LEED Platinum certification and Living Building Challenge recognition.

VanDusen Visitor Center exterior view


The VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, British Columbia, was founded in 1971; doors opened to the public in 1975. By the year 2000, two existing buildings, the Floral Hall and the Garden Pavilion, were seeing much wear and the Garden’s entrance needed higher visibility. There was also a desire to attract more visitors and reach out to a younger demographic. Changes were needed.

In keeping with existing buildings on the site which were built of heavy timber construction, any new building would also use a wood-based construction system. It seemed the most appropriate choice for a natural garden setting.

Project Description

The VanDusen Visitor Centre is the focus of modifications brought to the Garden. The project also included the deconstruction of an entrance structure, some modifications to existing buildings, and the addition of one pedestrian bridge and modification of another.

Read the Case Study

Project Details

  • Architect
    • Perkins + Will Canada Architects
  • Date Completed
    • 2011
  • General Contractor
    • Ledcor Group
  • Source
    • Canadian Wood Council
  • Structural Engineer
    • Fast & Epp Structural Engineers
  • Timber Structure Supply + Install
    • StructureCraft Builders Inc.
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