Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners
Two important contemporary themes come to the fore in Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners' Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St Louis, Missouri. Dividing up the essential laboratories, meeting rooms and offices with secondary spaces for casual meetings, spontaneous interaction and even public participation follows the management ideal for instantaneous and fortuitous communication. Secondly, the building incorporates the latest in energy saving thinking. It has a mixture of high tech components such as photo-voltaic cells which power louvres to respond to the quantity and direction of sunlight, with materials like timber which have little embodied energy. The Center's organisation dervies from a public east-west axis, so orientated to maximise free energy. Two internal atrium gardens lead off it; these in turn contain an auditorium and the private zones. The balance between technology and tradition, plant and human, public and private, greed and altruism indicates a new definition of public institution.