Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center
Architect: MSR Design
Owner: University of Minnesota | Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Location: Chaska, Minnesota
Project site: Previously developed land
Building program type(s): Education – General
The Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center is a multi-functional public education facility in Chaska, Minnesota. It provides learning opportunities for children and adults about the lives of bees and other pollinators, their agricultural and ecological importance, and the essential, fascinating, and delicious ways our human lives intersect with theirs.
Along with their importance to flowering plants, honey bees and other pollinators play a crucial role in the production of the food we eat. However, the health of pollinators is endangered by pesticide use, lack of forage, destruction of nest habitats, and colony collapse disorder. Serving as the outreach arm of the University of Minnesota’s Bee and Pollinator Research Lab, this new 7,530 square-foot center contains exhibit space, a multi-purpose learning lab, a demonstration apiary, and a honey extraction room. Located on a previously abandoned historic farm site at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, the Bee Center is the first building of a new campus focusing on sustainable farm-to-table education.
The architect developed a master plan for this new campus with the 120-year-old Red Barn as its heart and future event center. The practical beauty of traditional farm buildings inspired the Bee Center’s simple forms, its siting, material selections, and its passive design strategies. The Bee Center’s exposed glulam truss framing is a contemporary response to the wood framing of the Red Barn’s hay loft. The design connects each interior program space to demonstration pollinator gardens, beehives, and future food production plots. The Bee Center strives to serve as an exemplar of its program’s urgent call for human conversation and best practices in our natural environment. Located in an arboretum that is visited by hundreds of thousands of people in all seasons, the Bee Center invites visitors to deepen their understanding of, and connection to, the natural world around them.
"This project shows what you can accomplish, not with fancy tools, but by using intuitive design practices." -Jury statement