Longwood Gardens, a botanical garden with about 1,100 acres in Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley, recently announced plans to transform its core area of conservatory gardens. Across 17 acres, the $250 million project will include expanded gardens and public spaces as well as new buildings.
Dubbed Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience, the project originated with a master plan developed in 2010 by West 8 with Weiss/Manfredi. Longwood has continued working with Weiss/Manfredi as lead designer, in collaboration with Reed Hilderbrand, on Longwood Reimagined. The project is managed by Bancroft Construction.
The centerpiece and largest element of Longwood Reimagined is a new 32,000-square-foot glasshouse, designed by Weiss/Manfredi, with gardens and pools designed by Reed Hilderbrand. With asymmetrical peaks, the West Conservatory will seem to float on water. Inside, the garden will comprise seasonally changing islands amid pools, canals, and low fountains. Building on the 19th-century tradition of glasshouses, the West Conservatory will include operable glass walls and roof.
Longwood’s Cascade Garden is being entirely relocated to a new, 3,800-square-foot glasshouse of its own. An outdoor Bonsai Courtyard will be built alongside the West Conservatory. A public restaurant and private event space will be carved into the topography facing the Main Fountain Garden. And above the restaurant and event space, the South Terrace and South Walk will provide a shady promenade extending along the conservatories to the West Terrace, with views toward the Brandywine’s meadows.
Other elements of the Longwood Reimagined project include the construction of an education and administration building with a library and classrooms, the renewal of the Waterlily Court, and the relocation and preservation of six historic Lord & Burnham glasshouses from the early 20th century.
Owner: Longwood Gardens
Design architect: Weiss/Manfredi, Reed Hilderbrand (landscape)
Architect of record: Weiss/Manfredi
MEP engineer: Jaros, Baum & Bolles
Structural engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates
General contractor/construction manager: Bancroft Construction