Ellen T. Leslie Botanical Classrooms

Architect of Record:  EOP Architects

Landscape Design:  Waterfront Botanical Gardens

Structural Engineer:  Brown + Kubican, PSC

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer:  Shrout Tate Wilson Consulting Engineers

Civil Engineer:  Sabak, Wilson & Lingo, Inc.

General Contractor: Whittenberg Construction Co.

Owner: Waterfront Botanical Gardens

Location:  Louisville, KY

Category:  New Construction:  less than $5M


As the earth edges closer to environmental collapse, the education of our children (and adults) in what makes a harmonious and sustainable world has become even more pressing. To this point, the non-profit client asked the design team to remember its core vision to “plant seeds and grow minds for more sustainable cities,” and its mission to “cultivate urban botanical gardens that educate, inspire, and enhance appreciation of the relationship between plant life and a healthy environment.” This project provided the much-needed physical space for hands-on education, both in a classroom setting and in its embedded teaching greenhouse.

The project is located at a young urban botanical garden. The gardens already included a multi-purpose event space but lacked space devoted purely to education. The building site, located on a former landfill, is a sliver of land located between an existing entry plaza and a major interstate highway. The site provides not only a separation of the gardens from the highway, but from the highway it serves as a “billboard” for the gardens. The form of the structure, although reminiscent of a “barn” shape, did not want to feel too agrarian – thus its slick metal skin and integrated gutters. It is intended to sit softly in the background and serve as a backdrop to the existing curvilinear event space.

Additional information

“This modest project was very artfully sited on a reclaimed landfill, creating an inviting outdoor court with an existing event center while sheltering visitors from the interstate to the south. The simple, gabled rectangular structures complement the free-form event center while tying together with deft use of cedar siding. Community members are invited into the building in several ways, with each perforation allowing views in and out of the slender facility. Durable, unpretentious materials for flooring, framing and skin juxtapose with bursts of color, cleverly imitating the natural grounds. This is a very approachable and lovely project.”    -Jury Comment


Greg Papay, FAIA, Partner, Lake|Flato, San Antonio, TX  (Jury Chair)

Candid Rogers, FAIA, Founding Principal, Candid Works Architecture; Faculty, School of Architecture, University of Texas, San Antonio, TX

Cotton Estes, AIA, Founder, Cotton Estes Architect, San Antionio, TX

Adrianna Swindle, AIA, Partner, Lake|Flato Architects, San Antonio, TX

Image credits

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J.L. Jordan Photography

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JL Jordan Photography

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JL Jordan Photography

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JL Jordan Photography

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JL Jordan Photography