Topping Out Ceremony Held for National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and Osborne held a topping out ceremony last week (Tuesday 24 September) to mark the completion of the steel structure for the new National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning at RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey.

The new Centre, which will open in 2021, will be a ground-breaking centre for horticultural science and learning, helping to inspire the next generation of horticulturists and showcasing the RHS’s previously unseen scientific work.

Andrew Osborne, Chairman of Osborne and Sue Biggs, Director General of the RHS tightened the final bolt of the steel frame of the building and she was presented with an engraved spanner to mark the occasion. Around 100 people including key donors and supporters of the project attended and enjoyed a dynamic discussion about the future of gardening science and the horticultural skills crisis with botanist and broadcaster James Wong and RHS scientists Professor Alistair Griffiths and Dr Tijana Blanusa.

Andrew Osborne says: “The ceremony is a modern day equivalent of the centuries old tradition of “topping out”, and it marks the completion of the steel frame, a major milestone in the construction of the new facility.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work in partnership with RHS and WilkinsonEyre on such a unique facility that is sure to inspire many people to learn more about the wonders of horticulture.”

Andrew Jasper, Programme Director, RHS Garden Wisley said: “We are delighted that only months after our new Welcome building opened, our second major new building at the garden has reached this important milestone.”

Now that Osborne have reached the highest point of the steel frame, they have commenced the external walls and roof finishes will start within the next couple of weeks.

The finished building, designed by architects WilkinsonEyre, will include three purpose built science laboratories supporting diagnostics, molecular research and environmental research; a new Herbarium and digitisation suite; two new learning studios with accompanying teaching garden and a new library and archive. More than 86,000 herbarium specimens, 24,000 insect specimens, 30,000 pieces of botanical art, 250,000 photographs and 100,000 books charting more than half a millennium of gardening history, will be moved to the new Centre and many shared online.

The National Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £4 million to support the project, which includes three new gardens surrounding the Centre.