Iconic Conservatory Dome Constructed in 1902 Is Restored

The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in the Bronx recently reopened to the public after an $18 million restoration project upgraded the infrastructure of a 119-year-old dome. The dome is home to the conservatory’s celebrated Palms of the World Gallery, and the restoration will ensure the palms on display continue to thrive.

The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx recently reopened to the public after an $18 million restoration project upgraded the infrastructure of a 119-year-old dome. PHOTO: New York Botanical Garden

The project, which began in April 2019, also provided an opportunity for NYBG horticulture curators to redesign and replant the collection to highlight the history of tropical plant research at NYBG and the ecological and economic importance of the palm family.

Constructed by Lord & Burnham Co. and completed in 1902, the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory is considered one of the most superb glasshouses of its time. It was designated a New York City landmark in 1973.

The restoration, which was led by Jan Hird Pokorny Associates and Silman Structural Engineers and completed by EW Howell Construction Group, focused on the central dome, comprising the cupola, upper dome, drum (or compression ring) and lower dome. Interior scaffolding and a temporary horizontal work surface erected below the drum and an enclosed cylinder around the exterior of the drum and portions of the lower and upper domes enabled the work to take place efficiently while providing a weatherproof barrier to safeguard the tropical plants that remained in the gallery below.

Using leading-edge materials and technologies, the restoration makes the building more energy efficient and increases its longevity while respecting its landmark status. The painted wood cladding around the drum and the wood cornice—constructed with rot-resistant, first-growth bald cypress that is now very rare—were replaced with cast and extruded aluminum components that are durable and require less maintenance.

Structural repairs to the compression ring were completed, and a new high-performance metal coating was applied to all structural members to protect them from future deterioration.

Materials

CAST AND EXTRUDED ALUMINUM COMPONENTS: (Replacing Bald Cypress) Rough Brothers Inc.

METAL COATINGS: Sherman-Williams

DOME/EXHIBITION LIGHTING: Saliot Lighting/NMB Tech, ETC from Barbizon Lighting Co. and B-K Lighting

PATH LIGHTING: Touché Lighting Control

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