Visitor Centre & Discovery Hall

Visitor Centre & Discovery Hall

Visitor Centre

When you visit VanDusen you’ll first be greeted by the award-winning, ‘Living Building’ Visitor Centre. Opened in 2011, the Visitor Centre is designed to excite, educate and inspire our visitors about the world of plants. It’s a vibrant meeting place for culture and social activities, and also a remarkable piece of architecture.

Shaped like an orchid when viewed from above, its organic lines echo the way nature and conservation have been considered at every turn. The building is widely recognized as a pioneering structure in green design—and is LEED Platinum certified.

Living Building

Designed by Busby Perkins + Will and landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, the structure has been created to meet the ‘Cascadia Living Building Standard’—the most advanced measure of sustainability in the building industry. When it was built, Living Building elements had been attained in many projects around the world, but not all together. Today, only four buildings have met the standard and VanDusen’s Visitor Centre is in line to join their ranks.

Behind the ‘Living Building’ concept is the belief that humans need to move to a state of balance between the natural and built environments. These buildings are water independent—100 percent of the building’s water use comes from captured precipitation or reused water that is purified without chemicals. All energy is supplied onsite by renewable sources.

To this end, the building currently employs a number of energy efficient systems, including a rainwater cistern for toilet flushing and onsite sewage disposal. As well as a solar hot water system on the roof, there is a high-profile 11.52 kilowatt solar photovoltaic array on four custom pole mounts in the parking lot.


  • Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Engineering Excellence by the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies, BC.
  • Five Vancouver Regional Construction Association awards
  • Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia award in architecture, merit level by the Architectural Institute of BC
  • 1st place in the inaugural World Architecture News Engineering Awards (UK)
  • In Canada, the Cascadia Living Building Challenge is operated by the Canada Green Building Council in concert with the International Living Future Institute.

Discovery Hall

Before exploring the Garden, pause for a moment to enjoy the Discovery Hall. This space is home to travelling exhibits, art shows and special seasonal displays such as the Lego Village at Festival of Lights. The Discovery Hall is free to enter, along with Truffles Café, VanDusen Garden Shop and the Yosef Wosk Library and Resource Centre.