Arboretum News Joy of Giving

McQuinn Horticulture and Operations Headquarters

Take a virtual behind-the-scenes tour of a new Arboretum building.

The new McQuinn Horticulture and Operations Headquarters.

When visitors walk or drive on Three-Mile Drive near the Chinese Garden, they may notice a handsome new building in the distance. It’s the McQuinn Horticulture and Operations Headquarters, an almost 12,000-square-foot edifice that will house the horticulture, curatorial and gardening staffs.

Landscape gardener work and meeting space.
This large, open room includes work stations and meeting space for landscape gardeners along with an inspiring view. Photo by Alan Branhagen.

“It is a work environment that a No. 1 botanical garden deserves,” said Director of Operations Alan Branhagen, who oversaw the project. “They will all be housed in one facility where they can collaborate and be more productive,” he added.

He was shocked when he interviewed at the Arb over three years ago and saw that the maintenance building was just a pole shed with a garage door on one side. The gardener’s head house next door to it was an outdated, cramped, dark space without adequate offices, break and work areas.

Major upgrades in the new structure include the maintenance shop, which has drive-through bays so that the largest equipment (our beautiful new tram) can drive through and be serviced under shelter in a heated/tempered space). In the past, the maintenance crew has worked out in the rain and cold to get needed work done.

break room and kitchenette
This break room and kitchenette has enough room for 60 gardeners and seasonal employees. Photo by Alan Branhagen.

The large, improved break room with kitchenette will be a multi-purpose area that can be used after hours for classes and can hold the 60 gardeners and seasonal employees on site during peak season. A new paved parking lot has space for both staff and volunteers. A new locker room gives space for everyone to store their belongings.

Al and Mary Agnes McQuinn.
Arboretum donors Al and Mary Agnes McQuinn provided the McQuinn Challenge to raise money for the new horticulture and operations building.

A new, modern upgraded center like this one always has its angels. In this case, Al and Mary Agnes McQuinn, longtime Arboretum donors, provided the McQuinn Challenge, where many donors gave to the project and those gifts were matched by the couple. “At last, it’s time they have a home!” Mary Agnes McQuinn said, adding that she and her husband understood it was important that Arboretum staff had a space dedicated to them, their equipment and their work.

The building was 100 percent privately funded. The Arboretum Development Department met its goal to build this wonderful improvement to the grounds and the future of the Arboretum. It was designed by DLR of Minneapolis and built by PCL Construction.

Branhagen gives kudos to Arboretum Director Pete Moe for his unsung efforts to keep this as a priority project, get Arboretum Board of Trustees and University of Minnesota Board of Regents to approve the capital project, as well as lead in the successful fundraising efforts.

Office space.
A curator’s office. Photo by Alan Branhagen.

A tour of the new building (which is closed to the public) shows natural light streaming into the building, improving worker well-being. There is a huge monitor that can be used to review work plans, safety and other trainings. New plan tables give space to work on projects and garden plans.

Exterior shot of the new McQuinn Horticulture and Operations Headquarter.
Photo by Alan Branhagen.

“I expect this facility to boost horticulture, curatorial staff and mechanic employee engagement, productivity and inspire more collaboration. Mechanics will be right there to keep equipment operating,” Branhagen said. “It’s a wonderful and needed improvement for the entire Arboretum. Thank you to donors and everyone associated with the project,” he said.

4 comments on “McQuinn Horticulture and Operations Headquarters

  1. richardspiegel

    All I can say is that the new center is unbelievable! Al and Mary Ann always did have foresight and do things that are needed when others don’t see the need as being necessary.

  2. Ed Schneider

    What a beautiful, new facility. Long needed and now a reality. Congratulations Arboretum team for keeping the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on the leading edge of public gardens and service to community.

  3. It is so exciting to see the Scandinavian designed Operations Headquarters completed. These striking structures will soon be filled with staff and volunteers furthering the aspirations of the Arboretum. I am so excited that Operations have a space and facility that reflects their importance to the work and mission of the Arboretum. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. McQuinn for your generous support in this endeavor. Congratulations to the many people who made this a reality.

  4. Dave and Carol Cole

    Thanks to Al and Mary and all the other supporters. This fills one of the biggest needs of the Arb as it continues on its journey forward

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