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Architecture

Part of the The Butterfly Conservatory exhibition.

Heat lamps hang from the ceiling over lush plants and butterfly feeding stations. ©AMNH/M. Shanley

The butterfly vivarium is a custom-fabricated, temporary shell structure that sits within one of the Museum's existing galleries. It has been designed to be a "kit of parts" that can be broken down, stored, then reinstalled in future years. It is a completely sealed, self-contained environment, and is maintained by its own HVAC system.

The vivarium is approximately 1,315 square feet. Butterflies are contained within the adult flight area which is approximately 62 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 13 feet high. This space is enclosed by a shell structure consisting of a series of arched panels springing from a carpeted floor along the west side of the exhibit, and supported on the opposite side by a row of columns. The north and south enclosing walls are made of aluminum panels. Running the length of the vivarium to the east is a transparent wall made of acrylic panels.

The arched panels are made of "Kalwall"—a composite panel of a grid of aluminum "I" beams with a fiberglass skin stretched on both sides. Spanning between the panels is a series of service panels. The service panels accommodate all lighting, and supply and return air outlets. These panels are made of a framework of aluminum "C" channels that are clad with 1/16" aluminum sheet metal. All openings in these panels are covered with 16x16 stainless steel mesh as per USDA regulations.

Lighting is provided by twelve 1000-watt me