Top Navigation

Plantations’ Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center Awarded LEED Gold

Published: 
1 year 44 weeks ago

The Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center was completed in November 2010 and officially opened to the public on February 1, 2011. The Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center is an important part of modernization and infrastructural improvements made at Plantations over the last decade; it is referred to as the "grand finale" of a decade-long construction cycle that has seen new gardens, the redesign of office space, and multiple other projects. Built in the center of the Botanical Garden, at the confluence of existing walking paths, the building is tucked itself into the center of the gardens offering visitors a welcoming experience to Cornell Plantations.

Photo by Jon Reis

Among the notable green building features of the Nevin Welcome Center are wood louvers across the front of the building which serve to filter summer sunlight and admit winter sun for passive heating; rooftop solar tube collectors which generate winter heat; a motorized vent/skylight that provides natural ventilation, and a green roof which helps insulate and protect the roof while also treating stormwater. 

Green roof (photo by Toby Wolf)

Additional features include the extensive use of natural light, local and recycled materials; low-emitting healthy materials; and energy saving lighting fixtures and controls.  In addition to the building itself, the project received points for its construction management techniques, recycling up to 96% of the waste generated during construction.  Rounding out the project were significant landscape elements that contributed to the sustainable sites LEED category including a beautifully designed bioswale garden that cleanses water as it runs off the site and parking areas and the use of structural soil to allow for tree growth in a paved environment.
Buildings that receive LEED V.2 Gold designation from the U.S. Green Building Council must earn 39 to 51 points points distributed across five major credit categories: Cornell Plantations’ Nevin Welcome Center received 47 points, obtaining points across each category – Sustainable Sites (10), Water Efficiency (2), Energy and Atmosphere (11), Materials and Resources (5), Indoor Environmental Quality (14), and Innovation and Design (5).

Bioswale garden and parking lot (photo by Chris Kitchen)

In addition to being a welcome center for Plantations visitors, the building also serves as a teaching tool for many groups interested in learning more about green buildings,  “I direct many of the campus and student groups interested in green buildings to tour the Nevin Welcome Center.  Not only does the building have a connection with the natural world in both form and materials, but many of the technological and design aspects of green building are clearly visible and are easily described to and understood by visitors.” says Matt Kozlowski, environmental project coordinator at Cornell University.

The Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center is named for Brian C. Nevin ’50, at the request of the primary benefactor, C. Sherwood “Woody” Southwick Jr. The Nevin Welcome Center with its Gold LEED designation is a significant step forward in Plantations’ and Cornell’s commitment to sustainability.  Don Rakow, the Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations states, “Cornell Plantations is committed to a sustainable future, as such we are thrilled to receive the USGBC's LEED Gold designation for the Nevin Welcome Center.  Plantations has long needed a single site where we can greet visitors, provide them with orientation and interpretation about our collections and meet their amenity needs.  This dream was fulfilled with the opening of the Center, which helps us achieve our sustainability and educational goals.”


Baird Sampson Neuert Architects, the designers of the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center at the Cornell Plantations, have received much recognition for their design of this ultra-green building.  The Nevin Welcome Center has won a “Award of Excellence” from the AIA New York Chapter, an “Honor Award” at the Tri-state AIA annual conference, a “Design Excellence” award from the Ontario Architects’ Association, and Canadian Architect magazine and online journal.  The building has been featured in several publications and most recently was featured in Greensource Magazine in May 2012.  The general contractor for the project was Welliver, landscape construction was provided by Cayuga Landscape, and the project was managed by the Cornell Facilities Services department formerly known as Planning Design and Construction.  On November 27, 2012, Cornell Plantations will receive its LEED Gold plaque from Tracie Hall, the Executive Director of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Upstate New York Chapter in a small ceremony.