Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Olbrich Botanical Gardens is a national leader in sustainable regional gardening with a commitment to teaching. Yet the organization has never had a dedicated teaching space. Following a masterplan in 2013, Salas O’Brien planned, designed, and implemented a LEED Platinum learning center and greenhouse that embody Olbrich’s sustainable mission and practices.

In collaborative creativity with the client, we led project stakeholders to understand the complexity and nuance of integrated techniques and technologies. We designed a robust, efficient ventilation system and low-energy heating and cooling provide a comfortable, quiet learning environment. In addition, a stormwater collection and filtration system offers 75% of the water needed by the new greenhouse and minimizes the impact on the area watershed. The Learning Center uses 67% less energy than the baseline standard for a predicted total energy cost savings of 57.5% (without on-site PV) and a EUI of 32 kBtu/sf/year.

Completion Year



20,800 square feet

Construction Cost

$10 million