Architect: H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture Location: Texas, USA Completion: 2011 Size: 70,000 square feet Cost: $25,000,000 Client: Botanical Research Institute of Texas Photographer: Chris Cooper
The new LEED-NC Platinum headquarters for BRIT houses a variety of separate yet interconnected functions, divided into two structures: the “Think Block”, housing administration and research offices, education department, exhibit area, and public spaces, and the “Archive Block”, housing the herbarium and library.
The Think Block is a two-story structure of precast concrete panels punctuated with glass—broad expanses on the north side to bring in plentiful light and smaller openings on the south. A striking lobby greets visitor as they enter, featuring a grand central stair, reclaimed sinker cypress wall, and view through floor-to-ceiling glass to the restored prairie outside. The Archive Block houses the extensive collection of botanical specimens in the Herbarium, a two-story 20,000-square-foot climate controlled storage hall, together with a distinguished book collection found in the library stacks. Because of the delicate nature of the specimens, the structure is nearly windowless—a solid box of tilt-up concrete panels to provide maximum temperature and humidity controls.
On the concrete facades, overlapping vines of different patterns of foliage, texture, and color respond to changing sun angles and seasons. The sloping Think Block roof is a green expanse of informal patterns of regional sedums and grasses of the native Fort Worth Prairie. The interior character of the building is that of a work place, offering an environment where research, informed study, collaboration, and education can take place in a collegial, inspiring atmosphere.
The spirit of environmental responsibility is manifest in all components of BRIT’s new building. Sustainable features such as stormwater management, geothermal wells, solar panels, reclaimed and recycled materials, a green roof, and many others combine to achieve a LEED-NC Platinum Rating.