Horticulture and Floral Careers Building

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Client
    Kirkwood Community College
  • SQ. FT.
  • Budget
  • Market
  • Year

This project is a part of a community college Master Plan to provide a new, free-standing academic facility to support their growing horticulture program. Two major program elements comprise the plan and massing elements; the first being the educational building component which contains labs, classrooms, and office spaces, the second being the greenhouse with its associated head-house and service facility spaces.

The greenhouse had three primary requirements that became the impetus for much of the remaining building configuration. Those include an orientation based on the cardinal directions, a double bay scheme, and gabled roof forms. The head-house was intentionally designed as a bookend, meant to fully receive the greenhouse gable end. This quiet, two-story brick mass contrasts the light structure of the greenhouse while appropriately expressing its service nature through its material expression and form.

The educational pavilion set to the north was then rotated away from the head-house mass to give it a proper amount of space and distinction from its program counterparts to the south. This also allowed a succinct differentiation of mass elements and the insertion of a communal meeting space at the crux of the rotation. Each of the program areas has its own architectural expression with material and color choices used to tie the elements together in a cohesive fashion.

This building intentionally reflects the nature of the program and people who use it. Its palette reveals a harmonious quality, with earth tones and natural materials prevailing. Use of wood columns and beams, as well as wood windows and details was crucial to the success of the building’s tone. For those who work in the spaces, the comfort and ease of occupying them is enhanced by the familiarity recalled by the materials that they work with on a consistent basis. Other natural materials, such as brick and earth-toned metal panels, continue this language while natural lighting and constant views to the exterior reinforce the program’s connection to the natural environment.

The interior organization of the building is orchestrated around a linear commons along the south elevation of the academic pavilion. This area functions both as a progression and a tie towards the glazed greenhouse elements. It also connects the academic spaces to a large southern exposure and reinforces the occupant’s relationship to the outdoors, to the sun, and to the seasons. Expansive exterior gardens allow students space to feature their work just outside of the window walls.

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