The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory is a greenhouse in the Bronx, New York, United States, a major part of the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). Inspiration for the park and the conservatory stemmed from Nathaniel Lord Britton and his wife Elizabeth. The couple had visited the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew on their honeymoon and thought a similar park and conservatory should be built for New York City. The NYBG and the Conservatory were the result.
The conservatory was designed by the major greenhouse company of the time, Lord and Burnham Co. The design was modeled after the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Garden and Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace in Italian Renaissance style. Groundbreaking took place on January 3, 1899 and construction was completed in 1902 at a cost of $177,000. The building was constructed by John R. Sheehan under contract for the New York City Department of Parks. Since the original construction, major renovations took place in 1935, 1950, 1978, and 1993.
Form And Use
The conservatory form developed as a combination of the latest technologies in greenhouse design and more traditional ideas of ornament. The overall shape and layout of the building is geared both towards the functional aspects of the interior greenhouse spaces as well as creating a monumental form from the exterior to portray the significance of the building. Lord and Burnham made heavy use of ornament at the conservatory and was a trademark aspect of their civic and public conservatories. The heavy ornamentation here and in other buildings at the time was an essential element in defining the building’s status and historical appearance.
The building is a series of large glass pavilions that are all very open on the inside (typical of greenhouses). The pavilions are laid out symmetrically around the large central Palm House pavilion. In plan the building is divided into eleven pavilions, where each pavilion has a distinct geometry defining it in relationship to adjacent pavilions. Together the pavilions form a 512-foot-long (156 m) "C"-shape with the central pavilion (with its 90-foot-high (27 m) grand dome) in the center. The use of ornament creates a hierarchy among the pavilions. The central dome is the most elaborate, followed by the corner and end pavilions. The interconnecting pavilions are the least ornamented.
Materials And Methods
The main materials used in the construction of the conservatory were steel and glass, in addition to a range of materials used for the base, ornament, and waterproofing. The main structure of the building was made of steel although a few of the pavilions had wrought iron columns. Also, wood beams were used in some locations. Later renovations to the building altered some aspects of the structure. For example, many steel elements were replaced and wood beams were replaced with steel.