Vancouver’s VanDusen gardens opened to the public in 1975. In 2007 the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, along with the garden association, selected a team to develop a master plan for the garden which included a new visitor center.
The visitor center was built to exceed LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum status and pursue the Living Building Challenge, which defines the highest measure of sustainability for built environments. To meet the Living Building Challenge sites must be operational for 12 consecutive months before evaluation.
The visitor center used Rammed Earth walls in its construction. Rammed earth is an ancient technique for building using raw materials. The technique has grown in popularity as developers look for more sustainable materials and natural building methods. Rammed earth walls are strong and durable but may be susceptible to water damage.
Kryton’s Krystol Internal Membrane (KIM) concrete waterproofing admixture was used to waterproof the site’s water cistern as well as the wall behind the rammed earth wall. Kryton’s Krystol Waterstop System for joints was also used to fully tank the site’s water cistern.
The 19,000 square foot visitor center project was completed in 2011 with a cost of $14.4 million. The site achieves net zero energy, is carbon neutral and is in line with the gardens mission of conservation.