Exhibit Staging Center

FortyEighty Architecture

For decades, a dilapidated concrete block building sat on Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ lush urban campus. With block walls and no windows, the 1960s structure was not the kind anyone would associate with sustainable design. In 2019, Phipps opened an adaptive reuse of this building as the Exhibit Staging Center (ESC) with a dynamic, modernized design and the ambitious goal of achieving three of the world’s most rigorous building standards: Living Building Challenge (in progress), LEED® Platinum (achieved April 2022) and WELL Platinum (achieved June 2021).

Previously, the lower campus site was a public works yard, entirely paved over with portions classified as a brownfield due to leaking USTs. The renovated site and its surroundings can now manage a 10-year storm event using soil and vegetation-based systems including green roofs, rain gardens, lagoons and cisterns. Geothermal wells lend heating and cooling efficiency while photovoltaics provide 100% of energy needs, and windows maximize daylighting and open automatically to allow for the flow of fresh outdoor air. The use of Living Building Red List standards means the site is free from many toxic chemicals typically found in building materials. Where others may have torn this building down, Phipps has transformed it into one of the greenest in the world, showcasing to building professionals worldwide – and to its 500,000+ annual guests – that any building can and should become healthy and sustainable, a lesson made especially acute by the global pandemic and the need for safe spaces to live, learn, work and play.