Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s stateof- the-art DiMare Science Village, covering more than 25,000 square feet and featuring five buildings including the Clinton Family Conservatory featuring a splendid butterfly exhibit, the Glasshouse Café, Windows to the Tropics Conservatory, and the Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion, is scheduled to open on Dec. 1.
“The opening of the Butterfly Conservatory and Science Village brings together the fusion of nature’s magnificence and the enormous breadth of scientific research and technology available at our fingertips today,” said Dr. Carl Lewis, director, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. “Educating our children today about conservation science, the careers available to them, and the impact they can make, is absolutely critical in the 21st Century.”
A canopy of oak trees, some more than 50 years old, frame the architecture of the conservatory’s exterior. Leading visitors through the conservatory is a unique path garnished with a variety of plant imprints courtesy of Fairchild Garden’s staff, volunteers and children who participated in summer camp programs. As guests enter the Butterfly Conservatory, volunteers will be on hand to offer information and welcome them into the conservatory, which is ADA accessible.
Creating a wonderland of nature, an outdoor screened enclosure arouses the senses with butterflies by the thousands, hummingbirds, palms and trees wrapped with Fairchild’s extensive collection of rare orchids, all alongside a beautiful stream that flows throughout the length of the conservatory.
Upon entering, visitors encounter a Butterfly Metamorphosis lab where, through a glass wall, they can view butterfly chrysalis that are undergoing metamorphosis. Butterfly Conservatory staff can be viewed in the lab conducting research and observing as the butterflies emerge. Emerging butterflies will be released twice a day into the conservatory as part of its interactive programming for guests.
Visitors continue next into the Windows to the Tropics Conservatory where they will experience some of the tropical world’s rarest plants; plants too sensitive even for Miami’s mild winters. In addition, visitors will enjoy a majestic “Corchid Tree” — a large cork-covered PVC tree that is designed to exhibit rare epiphytes and orchids.
Next, the Tropical Fruit Pavilion introduces visitors to the world of tropical fruit. Guests will see cacao (from where chocolate comes), the vanilla orchid, the rare Mangosteen and more.
The new Glasshouse Café, which is directly across from Fairchild’s rainforest, exhibits a large glass chandelier by Dale Chihuly and 20 foot high ceilings that peer into the Conservatory through floor to ceiling glass doors. The café’s popular menu has been broadened to include organic and locally grown food, includes seating of up to 150 people and is available for private rentals.
The Science Village will showcase the talent and accomplishments of Fairchild’s conservation team by directly connecting scientists and their activities with the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Garden. Fairchild’s five-year vision is to support the science education initiatives with 10 PhD scientists, 20 PhD students and 40 undergraduate research students.
The undergraduate and graduate course offerings taking place at the Science Village bring Fairchild’s existing environmental educational programs,
The Fairchild Challenge, the highly successful multidisciplinary environmental education program for grades K-12 directly into a pipeline. Fairchild has upheld strict environmental standards during the development phase, the result of which allows the Science Village to become LEED certified. This new scientific hub marks the first time in 50 years that Fairchild’s team of scientists will be working on-site with the opportunity to interact with students, visitors and the community. Since the 1960s, Fairchild‘s scientists worked from a separate facility one mile from the garden.
Fostering a strong sense of pride in Miami’s environment, conservation science and community, the Science Village is equipped with the Dr. Jane Hsiao Laboratories — four cutting-edge educational labs including the Jason Vollmer Butterfly Metamorphosis Lab for pupae rearing, a Micro propagation Lab for propagating rare orchids, palm, cycads and other endangered topical plants; a DNA Lab for biodiversity and conservation studies; and a Microscopy and Imaging Lab which enables scientists to study plants and butterflies in minute detail.
A unique alliance for scientific study, the laboratories are installed with computer screens, Wi-Fi, and live webcams to facilitate lectures, and allow visitors to experience the work taking place inside of the labs, outside. The large-sized classrooms allow college and graduate students from Florida International University, the University of Miami and the University of Florida to extend their education.
The Tropical Science Institute named in honor of Dr. James A. Kushlan, a wellknown South Florida biologist and wetland conservationist and sponsor of Fairchild’s bird conservation initiative will be housed in the Science Village. Its overarching goal is to collect under one umbrella the science activities of the garden and to facilitate coordination and increased cooperation among South Florida’s scientists, conservationists, and educators engaged in tropical science, conservation and higher education.
For additional information, visit www.fairchildgarden.org