The University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s new Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center has been selected to receive a 2019 COTE Top Ten Award. Given annually by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE), the COTE Top Ten is the architecture industry’s best-known awards program for sustainable design excellence. Each year, AIA recognizes ten design projects that have expertly integrated design excellence with cutting-edge performance in several key areas. Winning projects must demonstrate alignment with COTE’s rigorous criteria for ten measures: design for integration, design for community, design for ecology, design for water, design for economy, design for energy, design for wellness, design for resources, design for change, and design for discovery. The five-member jury evaluates each project submission based on a cross-section of the ten metrics, balanced with a holistic approach to design.
The seventh Minnesota project to win a COTE Top Ten Award (out of 230 awarded projects in the program’s 23-year history), the Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center provides interactive learning opportunities about the lives of bees and other pollinators, their agricultural and ecological importance, the essential ways human lives intersect with theirs, and the alarming decline in the health of pollinator populations. Located on a previously abandoned historic farm site within the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, the bee center is the first building on a new campus focused on sustainable farm-to-table education. The design connects each interior program space to demonstration pollinator gardens, beehives, and future food production plots outdoors.
The design team combined passive design strategies with a robust envelope, radiant systems, a geothermal field, and photovoltaics to deliver thermal comfort and energy performance in a challenging Minnesota climate. The project is designed to be net-zero with the future expansion of the roof-mounted, 1-kW photovoltaic solar array. One hundred percent of the stormwater is managed on site, and on-site wetlands supply irrigation for the demonstration gardens’ native plantings.
The AIA COTE Top Ten Awards jury stated, “This project shows what you can accomplish, not with fancy tools, but by using intuitive design practices.”
The design team collaborated on a year of post-occupancy research and analyzed real-world performance through three interrelated lenses: people, space, and systems. The bee center fully embodies its program’s urgent call for conversation and invitation to visitors to deepen their understanding of, and connection to, the natural world around them.