longwood gardens: east conservatory, camelia house and ballroom restorations and additions (including organ museum)
longwood, chester county, pennsylvania
Cee Jay Frederick Associates’ involvement in the provision of design services to Longwood Gardens, Inc. spans a number of years and involves activities relative to the performance of services to address its institutional identity in the design of an addition to, and preservation of, the Main Conservatory, Camellia House and Ballroom, and Conceptual Planning and Schematic Design relative to the development of housing prototypes and a student center for the Red Lion Learning Center, its more industrial “back-of-house” Maintenance Area and Nuttery Storage functions, and the more accessory, most detailed, design of components for the exhibition of the existing Bonsai Collection and a museum space for the Aeolian “Longwood Organ”.
institutional and governmental, historic preservation design and planning
A desire to replace a large steel frame and acrylic “bubble” roof from the 1970s with a more traditional conservatory/greenhouse steel frame and glass solution (by others) served as the impetus for the interior and exterior restoration of the East Conservatory and Camellia House and the design of a spatially much-needed and environmentally friendly Entry Pavilion to the space. The former guided—in large part—the conceptual design approach and material detailing for the latter. Cee Jay Frederick Associates served as the Design Architect and the Architect of Record in the performance of its scope of work with regard to architectural design and documentation and construction administration of both the restoration and new construction components of the project.
As an interior design project, the Bonsai Exhibit at Longwood Gardens was more just that—an exhibit, as the exhibition space/room housing The Collection and its décor was to continue in its existing condition and simple expression . Thus, the task for Cee Jay Frederick Associates was its organization and the design of the actual furniture -- i.e. display pedestals/tables, upon which the bonsai are placed. This involved the Schematic and Detail Design and specifications development relative to the size, form and detailing, materials, and colors. Although in a room unto itself, a corridor that exists within the foreground area of the room enhances the experience of observation of the overall plants exhibit and its furnishings, rendering it, nonetheless, a more or less intimate experience with the contents of a jewel box.
In developing the Route 926 Tunnel and Road Reconfiguration/Maintenance Complex Master Plan, Cee Jay Frederick Associates served as Land Planner, Site Designer, and Landscape Architect to prepare a Schematic Master Plan for the principle Maintenance Complex at Longwood Gardens, inclusive of the development of a tunnel connection to the Gardens proper that is located across a State Highway, posing serious safety hazards relative to the numerous vehicle and pedestrian crossings that characterize every work day. Accessory to these components, a Township Road that intersects with the State Highway required realignment to correct an offset intersection condition with another main road within the Gardens complex, and a traffic signal was ultimately installed. As might be expected, paramount among the planning and design criteria for this project was the requirement for a high degree of sensitivity with regard to the grading of the Maintenance Complex and the Gardens proper in order to minimize a change in the landform configurations and the loss of existing mature trees.
The Nuttery Storage Building—named for the nut-producing trees that had been planted in this “back-of-house” area of the Gardens in proximity to the existing Maintenance Complex and former tenant worker housing—was able to embrace a somewhat anomalous visual identity and aesthetic, given its purpose to perform ever-changing storage and maintenance functions. It was designed as a contemporary interpretation and melding of the more adjacent industrial maintenance buildings and housing structures that are across the road from it, with reference to the agrarian/work components of the vernacular architecture of the area. As such, it is configured as a contemporary bank barn in response to the sloping site it occupies and the natural propensity for the separation of its miscellaneous storage (upper level for exhibit-related materials, etc.) and vehicle storage/maintenance (lower level with drive-thru capability to accommodate the visitor/passenger transporter [“tram”] and electrical substation functions. Unlike its service role relative to the Gardens as a whole, its materials are meant to render it virtually maintenance free, which is probably best expressed in the stainless steel roofing and aluminum accessories, factory finished metal siding, and poured-in-place concrete foundation, lower level, and site walls. While primarily a functional architectural expression and aesthetic, this building is, nonetheless, but uncharacteristically given its “barn” identity, responsive to its site and environmental conditions. It achieves a significant amount of passive solar heating with the amount of concrete walls and floor and glazing expressed at the lower level, even including the glass overhead garage doors at both ends of the building.
The restoration, renovation, and design of additions to the existing Ballroom building provided the impetus and opportunity to create a new “special purpose” space. To that end, what was almost a purely mechanical, basement storage space for the “behind-the-scenes” components of the Longwood Organ were reconfigured and outfitted as “viewable” rooms in the creation of a true museum-quality exhibit. While the actual exhibit components were organized by others, Cee Jay Frederick Associates designed and documented the “view” and “viewed” spaces to enhance the comprehension of the appearance and workings of this somewhat historic (c. 1930) musical instrument. The configuration of the various chambers, access to them and the opening up of the former basement rooms to provide a more appropriate exhibit “hall” were the responsibility of Cee Jay Frederick Associates.