Chicago Botanic Garden has broken ground on a new 25,000 square foot education center. The $26 million campus will reach full bloom and open by summer 2016.
The Regenstein Foundation Learning Campus is the centerpiece of the garden’s new education center. Booth Hansen is designing the center (with an assist from sustainability experts at the Rocky Mountain Institute), and they’ll be shooting for a Platinum LEED designation.
Booth Hansen is pulling out all the sustainability stops on the project. It will use recycled and low-carbon building materials, solar panels, even a rainwater capture and storage system.
Those features will do double duty, offering a teaching tool for the education center—energy and water use will be tracked in real-time. Visitors can view the data on an electronic dashboard.
The distinctive, curving eco-friendly main building is just the beginning. The Learning Campus Garden will also wow visitors. Landscape designer Mikyoung Kim developed the concept, with adaptation by Jacob/Ryan Associates.
The 1.55-acre multisensory garden will include such native plants as sugar maple, aspen and redbud. A stream will loop around the lower floodplain. Large boulders will be randomly inserted around exploration and play areas.