St. Louis + Destination


Travel & Nature Photojournalism

A prominent feature of the garden, the Climatron Conservatory at the Missouri Botanical Gardens is the world’s first geodesic, air-conditioned conservatory. Completed in 1960 by St. Louis architectural firm Murphy and Mackey, the Climatron was originally constructed of aluminum supports and rigid Plexiglass panels. The initial purpose of the dome was to house a laboratory in which garden scientists could experiment with conditions for tropical plant life. Not built for longevity, the structure closed in 1988 for extensive renovations. The supports were reinforced and the Plexiglass panes were replaced with heat-strengthened glass over the two-year renovation period. The new glass, manufactured by the Monsanto (Bayer) Company, better retains solar energy to maintain the Climatron’s tropical climate.

The Climatron Conservatory at the Missouri Botanical Gardens

The Climatron Conservatory maintains an interior temperature range of 64° at nighttime and up to 85° during the daylight hours. Watered with purified, reverse-osmosis techniques, the Climatron plant life flourishes in this tropical rain forest setting. Upon entry you may find that your glasses or camera gear tends to get foggy due to the high humidity. The dome maintains humidity levels around 85% for its 1,400 tropical plant species.

Tropical oranges and pitcher plants. Green geometric plant life. Black and white plants and flowers. Lush greenery near the waterfall.

Water from a nearby waterfall covers many plants in a constant mist.

Tropical ferns are abundant in the Climatron Conservatory.Maidenhair ferns. Maidenhair fern with backlit palms.

Because of its constant temperatures, the Climatron Conservatory is a great place to visit year-round. To learn more about renowned architect Richard Buckminster Fuller, patent-holder of the geodesic dome design, visit the Buckminster Fuller Institute website at

View more of my recent visits to the Botanical Gardens: