The conservatory at the Rio Grande Botanic Garden is the centerpiece
of the Albuquerque Biological Park. It is comprised of two large
glass pavilions; one features a Sonoran desert climate and the other
features a Mediterranean climate. Computer modeling determined the
necessary solar and thermal properties of glazing for each side
of the building to provide the proper balance of heat and light
to the plants inside. Plans called for a 7,500 square foot building,
but due to the efficiency and lower cost for the building's environmental
control systems, a 10,000 square foot structure was provided for
the same cost.
The conservatory has been open to the public and monitored for more
than two years and the results are impressive. Each pavilion sustains
winter temperatures 20 to 30 degrees above outdoor lows and maintains
the internal conditions that are required for desert and mediterranean
plant growth with little or no outside energy input.