Morris Arboretum’s Horticulture Center Wins the American Architecture Award

The Horticulture Center at Penn’s Morris Arboretum was awarded the American Architecture Award as one of the top new architectural projects in the United States, selected from a record number of entries from firms across the globe.   

Designed by Overland Partners|Architects of San Antonio, Muscoe Martin of Philadelphia’s M2 Architecture, and Adropogon Associates, also of Philadelphia, the building incorporates the highest standards of sustainability while meeting the Arboretum’s everyday needs. The complex houses the Arboretum’s horticulture, education, maintenance, and facilities staff, as well as equipment.

The 20,840-square-foot facility, located in Bloomfield Farm across the street from the Arboretum’s public garden, previously earned LEED Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The buildings were sited to preserve the surrounding open space. The office building is made of natural materials, and the garages resemble farm structures. Sustainable design features include green roofs on two of the garages, multiple cisterns that store excess rainwater for irrigation and lavatory use, and rain gardens, planted with native plant species, to manage storm water.  

The center is powered without the use of fossil fuels. A high-efficiency geothermal heating and cooling system and a high-performance building envelope reduce 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 healthy 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 American Architecture Awards are organized annually by the Chicago Athenaeum and are considered the most significant and comprehensive awards program in the country honoring new building design by leading American architects, urban planners and landscape architects.


Text by Julie McWilliams
Video by Kurtis Sensenig