The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science

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The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science

Facts and Figures

Opened in October 2005, The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science is the cornerstone of a new, multi-phased botanical education center at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. This striking new building adds a public exhibition and interactive learning space to the existing facilities for botanical research.

A $1.75 million grant from the National Science Foundation is funding the educational components of the Conservatory, focusing on kids ages 9 to 12. Four distinct "environments" have beencreated for different hands-on botanical exhibits: the central Tropical Forest Rotunda, the Cloud Forest, the Carnivorous Plant Bog, and the Field Lab. Living plant displays, water features, and interactive learning stations invite active exploration and discovery.

One of the building's future occupants is a plant that needs no introduction: The Huntington's famous "Stinky Flower," the Amorphophallus titanum, will reside here.

The Conservatory takes its inspiration from a Victorian-style lath house that was built on the Huntington estate in the early 20th century. The original structure, long since dismantled, had an open-work construction of redwood slats that allowed filtered sunlight and ample circulation of outside air. Its function was part nursery, part storage area, as well as a space for displaying plants such as palms, ferns, rhododendrons, and cyclamens.

Echoing its historic predecessor in its general outlines, the new 16,000-sq.-ft. Conservatory creates a visual link to The Huntington's past while complementing the other historic buildings on the property. Placed on an axis with the neoclassical rotunda of the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery loggia to the south and the circular, double-colonnaded Mausoleum to the north, the building links gardens and galleries in a graceful transition.

The architectural firm of Offenhauser Associates Inc. has given the Conservatory a fresh interpretation for a new century, with an updated design and function to accommodate a new generations of users. The design moves away from the Victorian influence seen in many similar turn-of-the-century structures, and leans instead towards the industrial / pre-Art Deco style of the late teens and early 1920s, the era of The Huntington's founding.

The design firm of Deneen Powell Atelier Inc. developed the interior landscape and exhibitions. Integrating education goals with enticing and enchanting plantings, the design brings plants and the processes of science alive.

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