HMC Architects has been selected to design The Honeybee Discovery Center’s new home in Orland, California. Considered the “Queen Bee Capital of North America,” Orland is the annual home of a million honeybee colonies, which pollinate the local almond groves. The Honeybee Discovery Center, a non-profit dedicated to advancing the public’s understanding of honeybees, pollinators, and their relationship to the environment, envisions a new high-performance building illustrating how development can alleviate the very problems that plague bees.

Housed in a large indoor-outdoor shed, the Center provides exhibit space, an event space, and a public landmark shaped to be intelligent and memorable. The enclosed spaces are oriented east-west under an umbrella roof, which suits the needs of the different programs and performance goals. At the south entry, a low roof with a pollinator garden is tilted to be visible to arriving school buses but low enough to create a stable soil bed. The hovering garden keeps bees visible, but out of reach. Over the main hall, the angle of the roof is nearly ideal for solar exposure at this latitude, allowing photovoltaic arrays to generate power just over the site’s energy demand. Together, the solar array and the roof garden represent two kinds of photosynthetic roofs—artificial and natural. The project is pursuing net-zero-energy, net-zero water, LEED Platinum, and Living Building Challenge. Once built, the building will become the nation’s only center of its kind.

The project is currently in design and recently won a Gold Nugget Grand Award for Best Special Use Project.