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758 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Client: Assiniboine Park Conservancy, with Corbett Architecture
Architects: KPMB as Design Architect in association with Architecture 49
Completion: 2020
Size: 84,400 s.f.
Project Type: Cultural
Cost: 75M
Fact: Main structure 'The Leaf' will be made of an extremely lightweight see-through plastic Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE)

Conceptual renderings:

Image/Informational Source:

Site Plan:'s-diversity-gardens

Winnipeg’s biodome garden looks to make a tropical splash in a city defined by winter
In Assiniboine Park, the lush Canada’s Diversity Gardens could help bring the world to a city on the grow, Roy MacGregor writes

They’ve heard it all.


“City of mosquitoes and potholes.”

The old knocks got a few new ones this winter when, for inexplicable reasons, a National Hockey League team in California, the San Jose Sharks, suddenly posted a video on its team website in which some of its players gleefully slammed Winnipeg. “I don’t like it there,” said one. The players thought it the worst city in the 31-team NHL to visit. Cold and dark and, as one of them put it, “I don’t know if they have WiFi there yet.”

There was a chance the Sharks might have met the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference final, as both teams stormed through their opening round in the Stanley Cup playoffs. That possibility, however, ended when the Sharks fell to the upstart Las Vegas Golden Knights, who went on to knock out the Jets.

Had the two teams managed to meet, the visiting players might have wanted to check out more than the hotel WiFi. They would have landed, for example, at the state-of-the-art James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. They could have taken a short walk from their downtown hotel to The Forks and viewed the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, a three-year-old building so instantly iconic that this fall it will be recognized on the new $10 bill. They could have checked out the relatively new Investors Group Field, where the CFL’s Blue Bombers will soon begin to play again. There is the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which is building what will one day house the largest Inuit art collection in the country. Or they could check out the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s award-winning Journey to Churchill exhibit, now with 10 rescued polar bear cubs.

The city’s historic Assiniboine Park is also the site of what may one day stand as the prairie city’s greatest attraction: Canada’s Diversity Gardens, a 35-acre biodome that Winnipeggers hope will one day earn the city world renown. The new conservatory is already under construction and is set to open in the summer of 2020. The $75-million project is part of what some see as a “continuing renaissance” for the city, a renewed confidence in the idea of Winnipeg as one of the most populous, robust cities in Canada.

Some might consider the project and wonder about bringing tropical plants to a place that hits -40 degrees in both temperature measures. Why Winnipeg?

Gerald Dieleman, the project director of Canada’s Diversity Gardens, has an answer for that.

“Why not Winnipeg?”

They called it “Winnipeg Destiny” back in 1912 when The Dominion magazine predicted great things for what was then Canada’s most cosmopolitan and youngest city, with most of its residents under the age of 40. The arches at the entrance of the city back then proclaimed “Progress” on one side, “Prosperity” on the other. With the population having tripled over the previous decade to 170,000, it was said that soon a million people would live where the Assiniboine and Red Rivers converge.

Winnipeg today remains some 300,000 people short of that million mark. There is prosperity but also poverty. There has been progress but there is also homelessness, crime and racism.

No city is perfect and Winnipeg would never dare make such a claim. It has its rough edges, some very rough, but it is equally true that those born there and those living there hold their city precious. Many feel that, just maybe, the promised “destiny” is merely arriving a century behind schedule.

Margaret Redmond, the head of the Diversity Gardens project, agrees. She mentions the airport, art gallery and museum, then details what the re-imagined Assiniboine Park will entail: an Indigenous Peoples’ Garden, a Cultural Mosaic Gardens, The Grove and, perhaps most impressive of all, a massive biodome known as “The Leaf,” all glass and plastic and home to everything from tropical plants to a waterfall to a third-storey “butterfly room.”

Many say that this renewed civic confidence – last seen at the dawn of the Great War – came back with the Jets in 2011. The original Jets had left 15 years earlier for Arizona, where they became the Coyotes; in 2011, however, the NHL’s Thrashers left Atlanta and landed in Winnipeg as the reborn Jets.

“There is a cultural need for Winnipeg to celebrate its hockey team,” Shannon Sampert, an associate professor of political science at the University of Winnipeg, wrote recently in the Winnipeg Free Press. “For Winnipeg, the need to prove we’re economically competitive enough to sustain a hockey franchise has been like a scar on our collective identity.”

“I think it started long before that,” Ms. Redmond contends. She would date the beginning of the current “renaissance” back to 2008, when then-mayor Sam Katz asked local businessman and philanthropist Hartley Richardson to think about how the city might rejuvenate its massive Assiniboine Park. The original 300-acre park had been established by city council in 1904 when it was inexpensive farmland in the distance. Now expanded to 400 acres, the park is surrounded by neighbourhoods, several of them of the high-end variety, and the land is considered invaluable.

During his decade as Winnipeg’s mayor, Mr. Katz was a great admirer of what New York City had done with its Central Park Conservancy, which has raised many millions of dollars for the restoration and refurbishment of areas in the park that had been in serious decline. Graffiti was removed, ponds and reservoirs cleaned, infrastructure improved and new attractions created.

Mr. Richardson helped set up the not-for-profit Assiniboine Park Conservancy, which he chairs. Ms. Redmond came on as president and chief executive officer. She is an admirer of those city councillors who had the foresight to establish the park back in 1904, even though many citizens considered it a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“How do you be as visionary as those people were?” she asks. “Our challenge is, how do we keep the park relevant for the next 100 years?”

The Assiniboine Park Conservancy exists at arm’s length from the city to give it more latitude in fundraising. The staff were given a mandate to “rethink” the park and its financing, as they would need to raise funds far beyond any city commitment. Years of deficit budgeting at city hall had seen the park and zoo deteriorate steadily.

The centre of the original park had always been the old conservatory, built in 1908 and, to no surprise, modelled on the Victorian style of several such buildings in the United Kingdom. Although updated in 1968, the building was beyond repair and tagged for demolition, but not before Winnipeggers were recently given the opportunity to come to the park and pay their last respects to the site of countless birthday celebrations and wedding photographs.

“They came by the thousands to say goodbye,” says Ms. Redmond.

There was never any thought given to replacing the conservatory. The mandate, as Ms. Redmond and staff interpreted it, was to “look into the future.” Within a year, they had a master plan together and predicted the cost of what they hoped to do with the park would be in the neighbourhood of $200-million. So far, some $70-million has been raised, with the three levels of government and the private sector putting up roughly a quarter each of the funds. The zoo’s Journey to Churchill exhibit was the first completed large project in the plan.

To gain a sense of how a possible biodome might fit into their plans, Assiniboine Park Conservancy staff visited several such projects in England, including Kew Gardens in London, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. They were most taken, however, with the Eden Project, a popular visitor attraction in Cornwall, England, that boasts two biomes housing plants collected from diverse climates and environments.

“That’s the one that left the greatest impression,” says Mr. Dieleman.

“The Brits call it the ‘Cathedral of Nature,’” adds Ms. Redmond. “That’s what we want here.”

The aim, according to Ms. Redmond, was “to build something of national importance.” They wanted to show biodiversity but also cultural diversity – e.g. The Indigenous Peoples’ Garden – and “to leave people with a meaningful environmental message.”

The conservancy invited submissions from 16 architectural firms, many with international reputations, and they chose KPMB Architects of Toronto, which is working in conjunction with Architecture 49, a Manitoba-based design firm.

The main attraction, The Leaf, is to be constructed using ETFE (ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene), a plastic-like material that is translucent and extremely lightweight yet strong. It is also resistant to wild fluctuations of temperature. Staff travelled to Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, to examine a mall constructed with ETFE and came away convinced it was perfect for their purposes.

“How do you build a tropical garden in Winnipeg, where it goes down to -35 Celsius?” asks Mitchell Hall, principal architect at KPMB.

Using this revolutionary building material, says Mr. Hall, “was a real breakthrough for us.” The challenge was how to heat the substantial volume of air in the largest biodome in the dead of winter and also cool it in summer. Using a combination of sunlight, geothermal heating and earth tubes (underground pipes through which warm or cold air is drawn), KPMB is convinced it can be done in a sustainable way.

For the Indigenous Peoples’ Garden, the conservancy brought in the local father-daughter design team of Dave and Cheyenne Thomas, who trace their Anishinaabe-Ojibwa heritage to the Peguis First Nation two hours north of Winnipeg. A major concern for the conservancy was how they might attract Indigenous visitors to the park in the future – an important consideration given that First Nations visitors to the park have been virtually non-existent in the past.

“We talked about things non-Indigenous designers never think of, things that were never discussed at architectural school,” says Mr. Thomas of his company’s first meetings with the conservancy. “We believe it’s not just concrete and design, but song and dance and stories – all these are also part of the architecture.”

Adds Ms. Thomas: “Working on this project means I have the honour to be a bridge as a designer in the representation of my peoples’ stories, values and intuitions. We have always been innately ‘artists’ and ‘designers.’”

Ms. Thomas grew up hearing stories of her grandmother being trapped in a different sort of architecture – a residential school – and she sees the Indigenous Peoples’ Garden as a significant opportunity on the road to reconciliation.

“For the city of Winnipeg,” she says, “this is a step toward finally allowing Indigenous designers and people to define the way we are represented [beyond] a non-Indigenous perspective.

“Once that respect is there, the future of non-Indigenous and Indigenous people becomes very exciting for the city.”

The final cost for the Canada Diversity Gardens is estimated to be $75-million, with $35-million coming from the federal government, $15-million from the province of Manitoba, $10-million from the city of Winnipeg and the remainder raised through private donations – a donor gala will be held on June 20.

Organizers hope to continue to raise money through such events, but admissions, special events, a restaurant and parking will also contribute to the bottom line.

“We’re hoping it will be a huge attraction,” says Ms. Redmond, “drawing not only from around the province and the country, but from around the world.”

Critical, they admit, will be making the Diversity Gardens a four-season attraction, particularly in that one season that has so often defined the city.

“Winter,” says a supremely confident Ms. Redmond, “has become quite trendy in Winnipeg.

“We don’t fight it any more.”





Prime Minister announces funding to complete redevelopment of Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park

758 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·

A waterfall, a butterfly garden and a tropical biome: Diversity Gardens taking shape at Assiniboine Park
$75-million project replaces the Assiniboine Park Conservatory that closed earlier this

Holly Caruk · CBC News · Posted: Jun 15, 2018 3:31 PM CT

The first limbs of a $75-million gardens and plant conservatory project are sprouting in a construction site at the southeast corner of Assiniboine Park.

Canada's Diversity Gardens is the final of three phases of redevelopment of the park, which began in 2009. The $200-million Assiniboine Park makeover included improvements to the duck pond, the building of the Qualico Centre and the Nature Playground, and the revitalization of the zoo.

It will also involve tearing down the Conservatory, which stood in the park for more than a century and closed at the beginning of April. The gardens are being constructed on the 14-hectare plot occupied by the Conservatory.

"What we're building here is not a replacement, it's going much more beyond what was here before," said Gerald Dieleman, project director for the gardens.

"This is really a key step forward for tourism and travel here in Manitoba. It's a draw, it's an attraction, in a way that the old facility couldn't achieve," he said.

As part of Garden Days, a week-long national celebration of of the vital role of gardens within communities that begins Saturday, media were invited to tour the construction site and get a look at how the project is progressing.

Construction on the new gardens and plant conservatory began last summer after government funding was announced in July. Work on the foundation is complete and the next part of the project will see the structure take shape above ground.

"The milestone this year is to make sure that the skeleton of the building is up," said Dieleman.

"The goal next year is to make sure the roof is on and the mechanical system is up and running, so that when we put the plants in, the systems inside can sustain plant life."

The project is on track to open in the fall of 2020, but the timeline is contingent on meeting seasonal deadlines, like the installation of the roof next summer, which must be done in warm weather, and planting the following summer.

Connection between people, plants
The gardens will be made up of four distinct features.

The main structure, called The Leaf, will take visitors through different climates, with tropical and Mediterranean biomes and a butterfly garden. It will also house a restaurant and banquet facility.

The roof of The Leaf will be made of an extremely lightweight see-through plastic, allowing the structure to be an open space without the use of heavy beams and walls and letting in natural light.

The space, which will be five times larger and twice as tall as the old Conservatory, will do more than just house plants.

The various displays are meant to be educational and reflect human diversity as well as plant diversity.

"What we're trying to do here … is to establish that connection between people and plants," said Dieleman, with garden exhibits that will explore the role plants play in shaping communities.

"One thing that we all have in common is a relationship between ourselves and plants, no matter who you are or where you come from."

The tropical biome will feature a six-storey free-flowing waterfall and pond, as well as a canopy walkway to give guest a bird's-eye view of the space.

The three outdoor spaces will consist of The Grove, a showcase of different tree species; the Cultural Mosaic Gardens, which will feature an amphitheatre and sensory garden; and the Indigenous Peoples' Garden, which will showcase native plant species and serve as a gathering space.

The Indigenous garden is being designed in consultation with elders and knowledge keepers to reflect Indigenous culture and history.

"The ultimate goal here is to provide a place that people can enjoy and appreciate for generations to come, just as they have before in the park," said Dieleman.

Other areas of the park are still accessible during construction, including the Terry Fox Fitness Trail.

Brent Bellamy

Construction of Canada’s Diversity Gardens @assiniboinepark is moving along. Going to be a very unique addition to Winnipeg’s cultural attractions.

758 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Diversity Gardens complexity through the roof
Assiniboine Park project won’t open until 2021 due to construction delays
By: Maggie Macintosh | Posted: 08/20/2019 7:00 PM

A massive greenhouse lush with tropical plants and slated to house the country’s largest indoor waterfall will fill the dirt and concrete skeleton in the south east corner of Assiniboine Park — but it’s going to take a little longer than expected.

The estimated opening of Canada’s Diversity Gardens has been postponed until 2021 due to roof installation delays, the Assiniboine Park Conservancy announced Tuesday.

"With a unique project of this nature, we do not want to rush it. It needs to be perfect and it will be a masterpiece," APC president and CEO Margaret Redmond told reporters during a media tour of the facilities under construction.

The 35-acre stretch of gardens, which includes a central greenhouse known as The Leaf, was originally scheduled to open in late 2020. However, Redmond said Tuesday the complex installation of the greenhouse’s translucent plastic roof — which will allow for the energy-efficient heating of tropical plants — has proven more time-consuming than initially thought.

It is unclear when exactly the grounds are expected to open during 2021; Redmond said the construction team will have a better idea of the timeframe next spring. "Winter in Winnipeg creates a very specific timeline for us to get that roof in," she added.

Construction crews will have to wait until winter is over to install it, pushing back deadlines for other big projects including installing systems that will work with the roof to maintain a tropical temperature in the building and the planting of flora itself.

Once complete, Canada’s Diversity Gardens will boast five outdoor gardens — the Indigenous Peoples’ Garden, Kitchen Garden, Performance-Sensory Garden, Seasonal Garden and The Grove.

The Leaf building will house tropical and mediterranean biomes filled with plants and a pond, in addition to a canopy walkway, butterfly garden and six-storey-high waterfall. There will also be a restaurant, banquet hall and classrooms for educational programming inside the 6,000-square-metre building.

Its horticulture space will be about five times that of the old conservatory and twice as tall as its highest point — making it "a world-class tourist destination," Redmond said.

Our provincial, city and national tourism entities are over the moon about this as an asset, not just for Winnipeg, but for Canada," she said. "It’s hard to convey the type of boost this can give to a city’s reputation as a tourism destination. More importantly, it’ll be an incredible asset for our community."...

Flora facts:

-300 species in the outdoor gardens
-29,000 outdoor plants
-600 outdoor trees
-350 species of tropical and Mediterranean plants indoors
-16,500 plants inside
-There will be 200 butterfly chrysalis received bi-weekly from Central America

The Leaf greenhouse facts:

-6,000 square metre building footprint enclosed by glass walls and a translucent plastic roof
-A high tower that will transport visitors up to a canopy walkway
-A six-storey waterfall
-The translucent exterior, geo-thermal energy system and earth tubes will heat the building so it maintains a temperature for tropical plants
-The building is expected to have a 30- to 50-year life expectancy while requiring minimal maintenance

758 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Building biome a big job
Canada's Diversity Gardens, biome project to open in 2021

Posted: 08/27/2019
A 110-foot spire of steel pillars and cables rising above the canopy of Assiniboine Park will serve as a beacon for an oasis of green in two years time.

Construction is continuing on Canada’s Diversity Gardens, a $97.8-million, 35-acre horticultural exhibit in the southeast corner of the park and The Leaf biome, the centrepiece of the project. The expansive garden and biome project, which has received funding from all three levels of government is currently two years behind schedule and slated to open sometime in 2021.

"This is the most significant project of its type undertaken anywhere in North America, and the only garden project of this scope undertaken in Canada in over 25 years."

In addition, the specialized ETFE (ethylene-tetra-fluoro-ethylene) roof material has to be installed under specific weather conditions. ETFE is a flexible translucent plastic product that has been used previously at the U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings football team, and for the "Water Cube" aquatics tank at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. According to the APC, the material has a lifespan between 30 and 50 years, is self-cleaning, resistant to pollution and UV rays, and can handle snow and wind. The material also allows for sunlight to penetrate the biome and captures heat within. Redmond said the cable net system the roof material sits on also requires some fine tuning before installation.

"We expect that to begin next spring, as soon as the weather is warm enough for the installation of that very specific material," Redmond said. "Our original hope had been to get that ETFE roof installed before this winter but we’ve been advised recently that some additional adjustments need to be made to those cables.

"This is a very precise process that’s going to take a bit of time which will mean we’re going to bump up against mother nature."

Canada’s Diversity Gardens has six components including The Leaf biome, and five surrounding seasonal gardens: the Indigenous Peoples’ Garden, Kitchen Garden, Performance/Sensory Garden, and The Grove.

Inside the The Leaf will be the country’s highest indoor waterfall at approximately six storeys tall; four distinct biomes (tropical, Mediterranean, display house, and butterfly garden); a canopy walkway five storeys above ground level; and a restaurant, banquet space, classrooms, and gift shop.

As part of the development of Canada’s Diversity Gardens, sustainability has been a focus of engineers and construction crews, APC vice-president of operations Archie Pronger said.

The biome will be silver LEED certified; heated using a combination of geothermal, solar gain, and natural gas; will employ a reverse osmosis filtering system for the waterfall feature; and will include glass recycled from the old conservatory in the concrete floors of the banquet space.

To assist in keeping the 6,000-square-metre biome warm, earth tubes, which pre-warm air before going into a heating system, have been installed.

"They further allow some economy of scale in terms of making sure that we’re getting the most out of the earth from the energy that’s available," Pronger explained.

The waterfall, in addition to being a gorgeous feature, adds to the humidity of the space," he added. "Humidity is an important part, as you can imagine, to maintaining all those plants."

Once the roof and environmental controls are in place, crews can begin to put a total of 16,500 plants and 350 species of tropical and Mediterranean plants into the earth. In the butterfly garden, an expected 200 insects will be released on a weekly basis.

"The plant material inside all comes from Florida, because it’s tropical material, so we also have a seasonal milestone that we have to work with. We can only transport in warm weather," he explained.

Dieleman said with the new facility a larger variety of plants can be housed in Winnipeg, including a swath of Mediterranean plant material that hasn’t been used before, and palm trees that no longer need to be lobbed off at the top.

"That’s what’s exciting for us, is getting a wider range of plant material that can grow to its full height," he said. "Here we have more flexibility and a wider range of selection, and room for plants to grow."

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