Morris Arboretum’s Horticulture Center Wins the American Architecture Award

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Media Contact:Susan Crane | | 215-247-5777 x121August 8, 2012

PHILADELPHIA -- The Horticulture Center at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, designed by Overland Partners|Architects, was awarded the American Architecture Award as one of the top new architectural projects in the United States.

The design was selected from a record number of entries from the most important firms practicing across the globe. This year’s jury was organized by the Federation of Korean Architects. Images of the Arboretum will be part of a traveling international exhibition that will be displayed at "The City and the World" symposium in Istanbul, Turkey, and at museums throughout Europe.
This new complex, which uncovered the embedded potential of the agrarian site and use, has previously received top honors for sustainable design, earning a LEED Platinum Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. It is a catalyst for transformation for building energy and water performance at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Horticulture Center, located on the Arboretum’s Bloomfield Farm, contains the maintenance and administrative functions for the horticulture, education, maintenance and facilities staff, providing important infrastructure for staff and equipment. The buildings were sited to preserve the surrounding open space and enhance the agricultural heritage of the farm.

The office building is made of natural materials, and the garages are designed to resemble farm structures. Sustainable and green design features include green roofs on two of the garages. Multiple cisterns store excess rainwater for irrigation and lavatory use. Rain gardens, planted with native plant species, manage storm water. The landscaping features native trees, shrubs and meadow plantings.

This project exemplifies Morris Arboretum’s continued commitment to sustainability.  The center is powered without the use of fossil fuels. A high-efficiency geothermal heating and cooling system, coupled with a high-performance building envelope, reduces energy use by more than 40 percent. Solar panels and a solar water heater further reduce energy needs. Carpets, paint and furniture were selected to create a healthier work environment. More than 20 percent of the building materials used came from within a 500-mile radius, and recycled content makes up 20 percent of the materials used. More than 75 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills.
The building was designed by architects from Overland Partners of San Antonio, TX, Muscoe Martin of Philadelphia’s M2 Architecture and Andropogon Associates, Morris Arboretum’s Philadelphia-based landscape planners since 1977.  The contractor was W.S. Cumby. The mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer was Bruce Brooks & Associates, and the site/civil engineers were Hunt Engineering.
The American Architecture Awards are the highest and most prestigious awards program honoring new and cutting edge design. Organized annually by the Chicago Athenaeum, the program has become the most significant and comprehensive awards program in the United States honoring the best new building design produced by leading American architects, urban planners and landscape architects
The Arboretum is located at 100 East Northwestern Avenue in the city's Chestnut Hill section.  The 92-acre horticulture display garden features a collection of mature trees and numerous picturesque spots such as a formal rose garden, historic water features, a swan pond and the only remaining freestanding fernery in North America. A new permanent nationally award winning exhibit, Out on a Limb – a Tree Adventure transports visitors 50 feet up into the treetops on a canopy walk that requires no climbing.  The facility is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
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