steel beams in the shape of arches forming a conservatory

Longwood Reimagined: The Project Continues

By Katie Mobley, on

Eighteen months have gone by since we embarked upon Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience … and from moving plants from their previous West Conservatory locations to their permanent homes, to the reopening of the Orchid House, to placing critical infrastructure, we’ve been delighted to share with you all of the progress made in the realization of this multi-faceted project. In recent months, we’ve reached several notable milestones as our garden expansion continues to take shape and as our cultural landscape evolves … and now is a wonderful time to share some of that progress. 

 

In May, a Longwood team traveled to Heritage Olive Trees near Napa Valley in California to tag the seven olive trees that will grace the central island in our new West Conservatory, which will feature a Mediterranean plant palette. The olive trees selected range from 80 to 100 years old and will grow in the ground until fall 2023. They will then be potted and next put in boxes for the truck ride across the country, arriving here at Longwood in May 2024.

 

two people standing alongside a large olive tree in a wood crate

Tagging selected olive trees at Heritage Olive Trees in California, which will make their way to our West Conservatory in May 2024. Photo by Bancroft Construction Company.

In June, we lifted the first section of steel—weighing in at around 11,000 pounds and measuring 47 feet tall—for the West Conservatory. This section is one of the 13 frames (or rows of columns and beams) that will form the structure of the West Conservatory. It was critical to get this first section in accurately to ensure that all the other frames line up according to the building’s unique design. Steel work is expected to continue over the next couple months.

steel beams being placed with green cranes to form a large structure

The West Conservatory continues to take shape, as shown in this early September 2022 image. Photo by Hank Davis.

In late July, we embarked on the precast façade panel installation for the new Restaurant and Event Space, which totals more than 50 precast panels, each weighing in at 15,000 pounds. We are using a precast façade for this space to allow for optimal color matching among all components of its exposed aggregate finish.

green grass in the foreground with two large cranes working on a building on the left

The Restaurant and Event Space façade progress, as shown in this early August 2022 image. Photo by Shelly Krocker.

One such panel is especially special, as it includes a replica datestone reminiscent of the stone placed during the Conservatory’s original construction. For structural integrity, the original stone was deconstructed during the project’s concrete work, which required we duplicate it using clay impressions converted into a three-dimensional model used to cut the new form.

a beige stone wall with arches and a date plate that reads 1919 to 1921

This panel serves as a reminder of the legacy we steward each day at Longwood. Photo by Bancroft Construction Company.

In addition to the panel installation for the Restaurant and Event Space, we’ve also waterproofed this space’s roof.

Also in July, the first plants for the West Conservatory arrived here at Longwood. The West Conservatory display will include two types of citrus grown in the espalier style—or the art of controlling a woody plant’s growth by pruning and tying its branches to a frame. The plants are frequently shaped in formal, two-dimensional patterns. We will be growing Fingered Citron, also called Buddha’s-hand (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis) and Fukushu kumquat (Fortunella obovate) in horizontal tiers, per the West Conservatory’s design intent. These plants are the only plants we will grow onsite for the new West Conservatory.

two people working on training trees

Director, Floriculture and Conservatories Jim Harbage and Senior Grower Jason Simpson work on espalier training in this July 2022 image. Photo by Carol Gross.

Our Administration Building—which will feature state-of-the-art classrooms, a library, virtual learning studios, and staff offices—also continues to take shape.

an unfinished new construction building with black paneling sitting on a dirt and concrete slab

As of May, the Administration Building had a roof structure in place and in early August, windows began to make their way onto the south wall. Photo by Hank Davis.

an unfinished red steel staircase in a new construction building

The Administration Building stairway was installed in late August. Photo by Bancroft Construction Company.

In late September, six water tanks, measuring 60 feet long and 8 feet in diameter and each capable of holding 20,000 gallons, arrived here at Longwood. The tanks are part of our sustainable rainwater capture system that will allow us to reuse collected rainwater from the roof of the new West Conservatory and Administration Building. Two of the tanks will hold collected rainwater, which is then treated, filtered, and stored in three of the remaining tanks for irrigation purposes; one tank will hold gray water. The six tanks will be buried on the south side of the West Conservatory.

a yellow crane unloading a large white tank off of a tractor trailer
The water tanks arrive at Longwood, shown in this late September image. Photo by Bancroft Construction Company.

Looking ahead, upcoming Longwood Reimagined milestones include glass installation for the West Conservatory, which is slated for a spring 2023 completion. Around that same time, steel placement for the new dedicated Cascade Garden space is scheduled to begin as well. Beginning in late 2022 or early 2023, we will begin installing the foundation for the new Cascade Garden.

Want a quick visual recap of the Longwood Reimagined progress from March 2021 through September 2022? Enjoy this timelapse!

 

As always, we’ll keep you updated on our Longwood Reimagined progress and continue to share the many facets of this incredibly detailed project as it unfolds. You can watch as the project progresses at longwoodgardens.org/beauty-making, as well as sign up for project updates at longwoodgardens.org/longwood-reimagined.

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