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jenkins arboretum / willaman education center

berwyn, chester county, pennsylvania

institutional and governmental


Although, technically, an actual retrofit of the existing offices building, accessory to The Jenkins Arboretum and Gardens, the expansion to a true Education and Visitor Center allowed for the expression and articulation of a most iconic and conceptually and functionally relevant building to anchor the complex and the arboretum experience.  To that end, the primary emphases for the structure are on its appearance and visual relationship to the gardens.  However, its architectural configuration and expression also seeks to maximize the passive solar opportunities inherent in a wooded site.  In many ways, it is its own “tree house”, positioned within and structurally supported by the existing natural and man-made forest.  The extensive use of glass makes the interior spaces both accessible to/from and part of the landscape, and provides for maximum passive solar considerations within the context of a structure that achieved LEED Gold Certification, due in large part to a geothermal heating and cooling system that was knitted into a minimal breach of the forest canopy.  The overall organization of the building and buildings complex (inclusive of the greenhouses and existing work sheds) is most conducive to a separation of the public/private, recreation/education and work realms.  Cee Jay Frederick Associates had complete responsibility for the overall and detailed site and architectural design. 

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