Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

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Coordinates: 40°26′20″N 79°56′52″W / 40.438948°N 79.947705°W / 40.438948; -79.947705

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Phipps conservatory 0.JPG
Main entrance to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Location Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Built 1893
Architect Lord & Burnham
Architectural style Victorian greenhouse
Governing body Local government
NRHP Reference # 76001598[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 13, 1976
Designated CPHS December 26, 1972[2]
Designated PHLF 1970[3]

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a complex of buildings and grounds set in Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States (near the Carnegie Museums in Oakland). It is a City of Pittsburgh historic landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[4]

The gardens were founded in 1893 by steel and real-estate magnate Henry Phipps as a gift to the City of Pittsburgh. Its purpose is to educate and entertain the people of Pittsburgh with formal gardens (Roman, English, etc.) and various species of exotic plants (palm trees, succulents, bonsai, orchids, etc.). Currently, the facilities house elaborate gardens within the thirteen room conservatory itself and on the adjoining grounds. In addition to its primary flora exhibits, the sophisticated glass and metalwork of the Lord & Burnham conservatory offers an interesting example of Victorian greenhouse architecture.

Phipps is one of the "greenest" facilities in the world.[5] The entrance pavilion of the Phipps Conservatory has silver-level LEED certification.[6] Its Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) has received a Platinum LEED certification along with fulfilling the Living Building Challenge for net-zero energy,[5] and its greenhouse production facility has received Platinum certification, the first and only greenhouse to be so certified.[7] Additionally, the CSL is the first and only building to receive Four Stars Sustainable SITES Initiative certification for landscaping projects. These honors and certifications make the CSL one of the 'greenest' buildings in the world[8]


Indoor rooms Outdoor gardens
  • Palm Court
  • Serpetine Room
  • Fern Room
  • Orchid Room
  • Stove Room
  • South Conservatory
  • Tropical Fruit and Spice Room
  • The Gallery
  • Sunken Garden
  • Desert Room
  • Victoria Room
  • Parterre de Boderie Room
  • East Room
  • Tropical Forest Conservatory
Phipps pittsburgh winter show.jpg

A swan display in the Sunken Garden
during the 2005 Winter Flower Show.

  • Discovery Garden
  • Japanese Courtyard Garden
  • Aquatic Garden
  • Outdoor Garden
  • Medicinal Plant Garden
  • Botany Hall Garden


Side wing of Phipps

In October 2003, Phipps announced an expansion project. The first phase, a green engineered Welcome Center topped by a neo-Victorian dome, was designed by IKM Incorporated, and completed in 2005. The Production Greenhouses and a Tropical Forest Conservatory were completed in 2006.

The Tropical Forest conservatory will have a different theme every two years, beginning with the country of Thailand. In addition to a "Research Forest Station" and a "Healer's Hut" (designed to educate visitors about various cultural topics), there are two waterfalls, several bridges, a stream, and a wide variety of plants from bamboo, orchids and frangipani to plants of economic, cultural, and horticultural value to the people of Thailand. The second theme is "Headwaters of the Amazon," which opened in early 2009.

An example of a Dale Chihuly art glass installation at the Phipps Conservatory in 2007

The new Tropical Forest Conservatory has several interesting features, which make it extremely energy-efficient (for a glass house.) It has "earth tubes" running underground to help cool the tropical forest and a Solid Oxide fuel cell, which powers this newly constructed part of the building. In addition, there are computer-controlled shades that block excess sun light from entering the structure and also help to insulate it at night.

In 2007, Phipps teamed with glass artist Dale Chihuly and his Tacoma-based team of glass blowers. They worked together to create a marriage of hand-blown glass and living plants. Following the closing of the exhibit in February, the conservatory retained four prominent pieces (the Welcome Center chandelier, the hanging gold star in the Desert Room, the celadon and purple gilded Fiori in the Tropical Fruit and Spice Room and the bronze, apricot and chartreuse Ikebana in the Palm Court) and subsequently purchased 26 smaller pieces for its permanent collection including six multicolored Macchia (wavy, shell-like bowls), thirteen amber Cattails and seven Paintbrushes, all of which are installed in the Palm Court. The total Chihuly collection is valued at $1.2 million.[9]

In 2009, Phipps teamed with another glass artist Hans Godo Frabel to create another stunning exhibit titled "Gardens and Glass." Unlike the Chihuly pieces, Frabel's work is more realistic, although still whimsical at times. Highlights of this exhibit include Longfellows, intricate glass orchid and lotus plants and various clowns (balancing on either glass playing cards or colored glass balls.) This collaboration was on display until January 2010.



Center for Sustainable Landscapes
  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2006-03-15. 
  2. ^ "Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation: Local Historic Designations". 2002-05-01. Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  3. ^ "Internet Archive: Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation: PHLF Plaques & Registries". 2007-01-27. Archived from the original on 2007-01-27. Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  4. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form: Phipps Conservatory" (PDF). 1976. Retrieved 2010-06-08. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b Moore, Andrew (May 23, 2012). "Development News: Phipps' Center for Sustainable Landscapes opens today, to be greenest building in the world". Pop City. Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden". U.S. Green Building Council. Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  7. ^ Raulerson, Josh (July 5, 2012). "Phipps Production Greenhouse Attains LEED Platinum". Retrieved January 24, 2012. 
  8. ^ Pitz, Marylynne (3/11/15). Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Retrieved 5/4/2015.  Check date values in: |access-date=, |date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ PG: Chihuly works will become permanent fixtures at Phipps, July 10, 2008

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