Tuesday, June 14, 2011

amazingly cool

Wanna know something else cool about the Bronx? How about the largest Victorian glasshouse anywhere in the United States?

Opened in 1902 and declared a New York City Landmark in 1973, it’s right here in our home borough. Here’s the story:

Frederick Lord was a simple carpenter in Buffalo, New York back in 1849. To augment his business he began designing and building small custom greenhouses then moved his shop east to Irvington on Hudson in 1870 to serve the estates of the lower Hudson Valley.

When his son-in-law William Burnham joined him in 1872, Lord & Burnham was founded and quickly became synonymous with the finest greenhouses in the land. 

So naturally, when 250 northern acres of the Bronx were set aside in 1891 for a new Botanical Garden--just 5 years after our ClockTower was built--Lord & Burnham were retained to design and build the glass conservatory. It remains the centerpiece of the Bronx Botanical today.

Renamed Enid A. Haupt Conservatory for the $10million Ms. Haupt donated to save it, this structure endured poor quality renovations in 1935, 1950 and again in 1978 before her 1993 grant finally set things right.

$5 million went into the buildings right away and another $5mill was put away for continuing maintenance. Consistent interior atmospheric conditions contrast with the four seasons and that ever-shifting contrast wreaks havoc with the framing and the glass.
“It's definitely a low-performance structure," 
said one of the consulting engineers, Liam O'Hanlon of Ove Arup & Partners.

And it’s big, too. It covers an entire acre of bamboo, acacia, aloe, elephant ears, rubber, banana, cacao and quite a few wandering tourists.

The whole conservatory is 512 feet long, over 2 city blocks in a ‘C’ shape with a nine story pavilion in the center.
Inside it’s really awesome.

Her gift allowed for computerized windows and venting, an energy management and plant misting system, new heating throughout and replacement of some elaborate Victorian detailing removed in earlier renovations.

The interior picture below is actually upside down; 
the photo was shot in a reflecting pool.

ClockTowerTenants will feature the interiors soon. 
Go see the conservatory this Summer.
Amazingly cool.

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