BUILDING BAGS . Denver Botanic Gardens Conservatory
The Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory of the Denver Botanic Gardens, a modernist marvel designed by Victor Hornbein and Ed White in 1966, provided the scene for part 1 of our spring photo shoot.
Hornbein and White were encouraged to prominently feature concrete in their design of the Conservatory; the Boettcher Foundation was funding construction and the family behind the foundation owned the Ideal Cement Company.
The iconic concrete diagrid (diagonal structural exoskeleton) provides both structure and ornament. The construction solution first required building a wood scaffolding to allow the formworkers to build; once the formwork was built the concrete could be poured. The volume is tall and structuring it without interior columns required thick diagonal members. Still, the subtle detailing of the concrete profiles and the overall scale allows the pattern to read like lacy leaves, or a filigree of petals.
The Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory was granted Historical Landmark status in 1973 - just 7 years after it was built. It's now 52 years young.
This elegant container and its flourishing contents are as earthy and modern as ever.