Morton Arboretum Visitor Center


Morton Arboretum Visitor Center


Lisle, Illinois

The 36,000sf Visitor Center is a wide-open portal to launch visitors into the Arboretum’s 1700-acre outdoor museum of trees. Its major elements are arranged to shape “inside-out/outside-in” spaces that take advantage of varied views of the Arboretum’s horticultural collections. A meandering fieldstone wall leads from permeable-surfaced parking areas to the Center’s open gateway space, framing the trees beyond. A smooth wood ceiling curves up and out atop a line of tree trunk columns to form a 320ft-long “porch”, sheltering sun-shaded exterior and interior spaces for public gathering and programming. A low-slung restaurant pavilion expands toward the lake through a 140ft-long sheath of glass (wrap-around, floor-to-ceiling, frameless) that transforms the panoramic view (seen from the inside, reflected on the outside) into a living mural of the natural world. Materials are natural too:  woods represented in the Arboretum’s collections, gently weathering lead-coated copper, and local fieldstone (salvaged from a predecessor building). The Arboretum wanted to attract more people to study and enjoy its tree collectionsdoubling its annual visitorship. The Visitor Center has helped reach this goal in just 2 years.



2007 Chicago Architecture Foundation Patron of the Year Award

2007 AIA Illinois 150 Great Places in Illinois

AIA Illinois 150 Great Places in Illinois, 2007

Daily Herald, 11.08.2005

Chicago Tribune 09.26.04





Morton Arboretum


Completed 2004

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Project Data

Area/Budget: 36,600sf / $13,000,000

Scope: 36,600sf sustainably designed visitor center with a public assembly and programming facilities, 350-seat restaurant, café, museum store, rest rooms & offices

Project Team: David Woodhouse, Andy Tinucci (project architect), Rob Chambers, Patrick Curry, Garrett Daniel, Tom Dilley, Evan Fox, Greg Lauterbach, Brian Meade, Richard Nowlan, David Poorman, Seth Romig, Josh Stein, Marsha Woodhouse

Thornton-Tomasetti / Fisher & Partners (structural); CCJM Engineers (mep); Schuler Shook/Hugh Lighting Design (lighting); Kirkegaard Associates (acoustical); Edge Associates (kitchen equipment); Concrete (graphics); Hanscomb Faithful & Gould (cost); Andoniadis Retail Services (retail concept); Cornyn Fasano Group (food service concept); Christopher B Burke Engineering (civil); Morton Arboretum (landscape); Executive Construction (general contractor)

Photographer: Greg Murphey; Bill Timmerman