Lauritzen Gardens Announces New Conservatory

Lauritzen Gardens has begun a $31.5 million project that will add a 20,000 square foot conservatory- a key component in making the garden a four-season destination and its most significant addition since the visitor and education center opened in 2001.

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A rendering of the conservatory from the southeast

The conservatory will enrich our region with the knowledge of a tropical environment that is otherwise difficult to obtain without traveling a great distance

Omaha, Nebraska (PRWEB) April 26, 2013

Lauritzen Gardens has begun a $31.5 million project that will add a 20,000 square foot conservatory- a key component in making the garden a four-season destination and its most significant addition since the visitor and education center opened in 2001.

At a private ceremony held on Wednesday, April 24, it was announced that the conservatory would be named in memory of Marge Daugherty in recognition of a gift given by the Robert B. Daugherty Charitable Foundation. Mrs. Daugherty was the wife of the late Robert B. Daugherty, founder of Valmont Industries.

“Lauritzen Gardens is already a treasured attraction for Omaha and the new conservatory is an extraordinary and beautiful gift to the Omaha community,” said Randy Blackburn, president of the Lauritzen Gardens board of directors. “The addition of the conservatory furthers the garden's mission which is centered around education, display and conservation of our natural environment. On behalf of the board of directors, we are extremely grateful to the donors for providing the support needed to add this unique aspect, attracting more of our community and visitors to the hidden sanctuary that we have in the heart of our city.”

Located to the west of the existing visitor and education center, the conservatory will seamlessly weave the visitor and education center into the green tapestry of the garden. In line with the vision of the gardens’ founders, the conservatory will contain a fantastic collection of unusual plant life, not native to our area and seldom seen by visitors. The space will be separated into three sections- a 10,000 square foot tropical “house”, a 5,300 square foot temperate “house” and a 2,000 square foot gallery designed to be a flexible space for varying types of unique floral displays and special events.

“A conservatory will expand Lauritzen Gardens capacity to serve its visitors, provide future growth opportunities, raise the regional and national profile of both Omaha and the garden, and serve the organization’s mission more completely by truly being a four-season destination,” said Spencer Crews, executive director of Lauritzen Gardens. “The conservatory will enrich our region with the knowledge of a tropical environment that is otherwise difficult to obtain without traveling a great distance.”

Lauritzen Gardens selected the architectural expertise of HDR, working with Rough Brothers Greenhouses and landscape architect CG Studios, Inc. Inspired by the forms found in tropical heliconia flowers, as well as the Lauritzen Gardens logo, the conservatory is designed to complement the existing building, with elements such as natural stone and stucco, similar to the structure of the visitor and education center. Guided by the simple, yet lofty goal to above all, design a conservatory to function as an optimum plant growing environment, the design team collaborated to bring to life an inspired, lasting and beautiful urban oasis.

The three different sections all feature canopies that overhang in alternating directions, mimicking the organic shapes seen in a budding heliconia, and the ridgelines of the conservatory all angle upwards, to visually evoke the idea of growth from the hillside.

One of the most unique architectural aspects is the change in elevation planned throughout the space. A dramatic 20 foot rise in elevation occurs from the entry to the northern end. This does not occur by accident, but rather is a sensitive response to the hillside the glass houses “grow” out of, with the goal of creating unparalleled display opportunities and dramatic views.

The conservatory will be the first garden constructed since the Garden of Memories was dedicated in 2009. Site preparation has begun and construction is scheduled for completion in November of 2014.

Lauritzen Gardens is an urban oasis of beauty and tranquility. This 100-acre botanical garden, comprised of several outdoor garden areas, creates a living museum of unique four-season plant displays, maintained to the highest standards consistent with environmental stewardship.

Over 30 years ago, a group of five individuals began meeting to start planning a botanical garden in Omaha. These founding members had an ambitious plan that included an elegant visitor and education center that would house educational classrooms, a first-class horticultural library, special event spaces, a café and gift shop. They envisioned individual gardens throughout the property that would highlight the beauty of nature and allow designated areas to showcase specific flora native to our region. Their plan also included a dramatic four-season conservatory that would contain a fantastic collection of unusual plant life, not native to our area and seldom seen by visitors.

The garden’s development came about due to the contributions of donors and board members. Lauritzen Gardens was so named following a generous contribution from the Lauritzen family, a family that has played a significant role in Omaha’s history and development. To keep this beautiful and thriving organization running, the garden is privately funded and relies on contributions, sponsorships, admissions, memberships and facility rental income.

Lauritzen Gardens is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the café serves lunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Lauritzen Gardens is conveniently located in the beautiful riverfront hills at First and Bancroft Streets and is close to the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and the Old Market. For more information, please visit http://www.lauritzengardens.org or call (402) 346-4002.

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