Conservatory at Birmingham Botanical Gardens to undergo $1.4 million renovation project
In 2013, one of Birmingham’s most iconic sights will undergo a $1.4 million renovation project, allowing the Conservatory at Birmingham Botanical Gardens to open to the public for the first time since April of 2011. Originally opened in December of 1963 and designed by the now defunct Lord & Burnham firm, the building has become a rare piece of architecture as many similar structures across the nation have since been razed. Though safety concerns about the building’s glass ceiling forced its closure, the structure remains sturdy and especially worthy of preservation as one of the last of its kind.
This project, Phase I of a series envisioned in The Gardens’ master plan, will begin in earnest in May, after the season’s final frost. This phase will include stripping the old glass and cleaning the structure, upgrading base electrical distribution and automating ventilation sashes, repairing interior partition walls and replacing doors, remediating asbestos and lead, re-glazing with safety glass, restoring the original entrance appearance and installing an internal mylar shade blanket and insulation system. Its completion will allow the Conservatory to open for public use for the first time in two years. September is the targeted date for completion, in time for the new school year’s return of Discovery Field Trips, The Gardens’ award-winning, curriculum-based educational programs which have provided a free science education to nearly 100,000 Birmingham children over the last decade. Phase I does not include new exhibits, and some old exhibits have been removed from the Conservatory in order to facilitate the project.
The Pennington Group, Inc. has been awarded the project. Based in Birmingham, The Pennington Group, Inc. is a commercial contractor offering a full range of construction services, registered and licensed in the state of Alabama. The Pennington Group, Inc. has developed a firm foundation for commercial construction and is often selected as the contractor for interior renovation, rebuilding, demolition and build-out projects. The City of Birmingham funded $115,000 for the design and engineering performed by Montgomery Smith, Inc. in 2012; principle Jim Smith has been retained for construction administration Phase I. The City also supplied in-kind services to shepherd this project through the design and bidding process.
The $1.4 million Conservatory Improvement Project, Phase I, was made possible through the generous donations of: The Lucille S. Beeson Charitable Trust, The Brooke Family Foundation, City of Birmingham, Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, Lyndra and Bill Daniel, The Daniel Foundation of Alabama, Lorol Roden Bowron Rediker Rucker Foundation and two anonymous donors. Additional funding was provided by The Butrus Family Advised Fund at Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and The Holly Oak Garden Club.
This project is just Phase I of a lengthy plan to maximize the potential of The Gardens’ Conservatory. While it will conclude with the facility being open for Discovery Field Trips, long-term plans envision an even brighter future:
Phase II: addition of indoor exhibits
Phase III: addition of horticulture office and maintenance building
Phase IV: addition of conservatory buildings, concert stage and conservatory terraces
Phase V: addition of new potting shed and production greenhouses
Phase VI: addition of activities building and public restrooms, Persian Garden, expanded Bruno Vegetable Garden, Herb Terrace and Carver crops
We’re eager to see one of the Magic City’s landmarks evolve over the coming years! Come see us grow at Birmingham Botanical Gardens!