Donald Danforth Plant Science Centre

Grimshaw, St Louis, Missouri, 2001


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South-facing facade of the Plant Centre 

Timothy Hunsley     Download Original

  • South-facing facade of the Plant Centre    
  • The cantilevered roof profile protects the building from sunlight glares    
  • Glass curtain wall looking into the atrium    
  • Daylight from above and both ends, the atrium aims to be a staff hub, and sometimes a space available to the community    
  • The deep-plan laboratory space     
  • Site plan    
  • Second and third floor plan    
  • Cross section    
  • Long section    
  • Bridge and staircase working detail    
  • Bridge working detail    

Not-for-profit institution for basic plant science research, comprising laboratories and courtyards which make up a square, three-storey volume

The project addresses environmental issues by prioritising the integration of sustainable features in its design principles. These are mainly in the control of natural light and heat gain.

A variety of cladding materials were used on the facades. Visually, the terracotta panels dominate, these are set within aluminium frames across the expanses of all four elevations. The elevations are serrated with concave shading devices covered by a roof profile.

These materials carry a thermal lag to cool the building during summer temperatures, reducing energy consumption. There is a four inch air space between the terracotta rainscreen and mineral fibre insulation, as well as a 16-gauge sheet moisture barrier. The atrium and roof also contribute, the former acting as a buffer between the air-conditioned laboratory spaces, and the latter's cantilevered south-side profile protecting the building from direct sunlight.

The building incorporates a central atrium, a space for use of library collections and conferences. It is predominantly a staff hub, but available to the community at certain times.

The laboratories are set in a deep-plan space and are necessarily air-conditioned. A ridged north light roof allows in daylight from above, as does the glass facade.


  • Completed: Sep 2001
  • Floor area: 11,850m2
  • Sectors: Education, Office
  • Total cost: £34.4M
  • Tender date: Oct 1998
  • Procurement: Negotiated lump sum
  • Address: Donald Danforth Plant Science Center , 975 North Warson Road , Creve Coeur, St Louis, Missouri, 63132 , United States

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