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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

May 2, 2008

New look for Reiman Gardens

by Paula Van Brocklin

The butterflies are back and the flowers are blooming. But those aren't the only changes at Reiman Gardens this spring. Renovations under way on portions of the conservatory complex and Mahlstede building will improve the gardens' capacity for large events and provide more classroom space. A new maintenance building also is under construction in the parking lot. The $1.75 million project, begun in January, is expected to wrap up June 1.

Why now?

Last winter, officials cut back Reiman Gardens' hours, temporarily closed the butterfly wing and decreased staff to reduce operating expenses. So, where did the money for the renovation come from?

"The primary donors are Roy and Bobbi Reiman," said Teresa McLaughlin, director of Reiman Gardens.

McLaughlin said the Reimans supported the renovation to help put the gardens on solid financial footing.

"In looking at our best revenue sources, it was clear to see that rentals and special events bring in the most attendance and the most revenue. We've reorganized the spaces so that we can maximize our revenue."

Reiman Gardens' Garden Room

Visitors were welcomed to the new Garden Room during Reiman Gardens' reopening celebration last week. Formerly Hazel's Kitchen and the gift shop, the space now boasts audiovisual capabilities and a view of the conservatory. Photo by Bob Elbert.

The Garden Room

The conservatory complex sports the gardens' most visible changes. The Garden Room, completed April 1, occupies the space formerly used by Hazel's Kitchen and the gift store. The 2,185-square-foot room can seat about 200 people, and will be used primarily for special events.

"We've not had a space large enough for some events that we've had," McLaughlin said. "We've tried to hold them in the hallway, but that was very clumsy because it's so narrow."

The east side of the Garden Room sports large, sliding glass-panel doors, which can be opened to the hallway for additional space. A wall of windows on the room's south end look into the conservatory. The room also is equipped with audiovisual equipment.

With Hazel's Kitchen gone, Reiman Gardens no longer offers daily food service. However, the kitchen is intact to allow on-site catering services, contracted through ISU Dining.

"We have about 300 events a year at Reiman Gardens, and many of them ask for catered food," McLaughlin said. "If we get notice, we can cater most any event here."

Daily visitors may bring their own food and beverages on site.

Gift shop goes green

The buzzword these days is "green," and the same holds true for the new Reiman Gardens gift shop, scheduled to open June 1. The shop's inventory will focus on sustainable and recyclable products, including jewelry, apparel, books and outdoor gardening items.

"Environmental stewardship has become a really important element of everything we do out here, and it will be reflected in the gift shop," McLaughlin said.

Perhaps the biggest change for the gift shop is its location. A new 430-square-foot space for the store has been carved inside the main entrance, allowing patrons to shop without paying admission to the gardens.

And, Reiman Gardens now manages the gift store. Previously, University Book Store managed it.

Changes at Mahlstede

Relocating staff offices to the west side of the conservatory complex (previously storage, a bathroom and staff areas) allows for an additional classroom and a new boardroom in the Mahlstede building. The Speer Room remains unaltered.

McLaughlin said 30 to 40 ISU classes meet at the gardens each semester for lab work and special projects. Reiman Gardens also offers up to 10 educational events each month. The renovation will create a total of six classrooms, including the Garden Room and Hughes Auditorium in the conservatory complex, and the Hunziker House.

Changes to the Mahlstede building will be complete June 1.

Plan your visit

Reiman Gardens is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Through Dec. 31, the butterfly wing will be open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. The gift shop will open June 1 and follow the same daily schedule.