Louis Bauer is Wave Hill’s Director of Horticulture.
Wave Hill’s Alpine House gives visitors the opportunity to view our collection of beautiful alpine plants up close. The house and adjacent terrace were built in 1983 by Wave Hill’s Friends of Horticulture Committee to honor Thomas H. Everett, eminent horticulturist and early supporter of Wave Hill. Below is an early shot of the house under construction.
The Alpine House had been specially designed to moderate temperature extremes, and be energy-efficient—a move that was cutting-edge in its time—with removable window and roof panels. But a lot has happened in the 30+ years since the house was built. And if you have been a regular visitor to this part of the garden, then you may be aware that the panels have suffered from the elements. Thus the philanthropic opportunity at our annual Gardeners’ Party in the fall of 2014 was to support renovations to the house. Thanks to the enthusiasm generated that evening and the ongoing support of so many who love Wave Hill, together with a generous grant from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust, we were finally able to begin planning the renovation last year.
By May of last year, Frank Perrone, Director of Facilities and Capital Projects, and I were meeting with the contractor for the renovations, the Weatherworks Company, and Andrew Berman, a Wave Hill Board Member and principal of Andrew Berman Architect PLLC, who provided in-kind support for the design. Bill Withers of Weatherworks is in the left foreground of this next photo as Frank, on the left, and I listen intently. The renovation and restoration are taking place on the foundations of an older greenhouse foundation, complicating planning and execution.
By August, our gardeners were busy constructing a home-away-from-home for the less hardy plants that live in the Alpine House.
As fall approached, we were confident about specific improvements. Most obvious to visitors would be a new aluminum structure, which was to be erected for the roof and the sides of the building. By late October, when this next shot was taken, the contractors had begun to remove the existing panels.
The windows were to be double-hung in front, but not, as before, at an angle. We expect that will eliminate the dripping that visitors have experienced when they peer into the Alpine House, as well as the layer of ice that would form at the base of the wall.
The end walls were also replaced.
The next shot was taken as the year was drawing to a close and we awaited the last step, overhauling the inside back wall of the house—with stucco providing a clean backdrop to the alpine collection—and rerouting electrical and plumbing.
And then, finally, the collection returned to its home.
In the shot above, note the new window on the east end of the house, which is matched on the west end. The final shot here shows one of the advantages of the new dutch door: Leaning in allows for a sweeping view of the collection.