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monarch sanctuary
Biodiversity in Double Skin Façade - Collaboration with Terreform One

The Monarch Sanctuary (Lepidoptera terrarium) will be eight stories of new commercial construction in Nolita, NYC. Programmatically, the building space will mostly contain retail and office life. Yet central to its purpose is a semi-porous breeding ground, waystation, and sanctuary for the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). It is a pioneering building – one that aims to be ecologically generous, weaving butterfly conservation strategies into its design through the integration of open monarch habitat in its facades, roof, and atrium. Not just a building envelope, the edifice is a new biome of coexistence for people, plants, and butterflies.

The monarch butterfly of North America is an at risk species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently assessing whether the monarch needs to be granted “endangered species” status, while the monarch population erodes due to the combined forces of agricultural pesticides and habitat loss. Monarchs are a delicate presence in New York City, migrating each year from Mexico and Florida to the city’s precious green spaces to lay their eggs on the milkweed plant.

This project will vitally serve as a large-scale Lepidoptera terrarium. A permeable vertical meadow, the Monarch Sanctuary is a double-skin facade integrated with an open garden that serves as a crucial way station and habitat for the at-risk butterfly. It will bolster the Monarch’s presence in the city through two strategies: open plantings of milkweed and nectar flowers on the roof, rear facade, and terrace will provide breeding ground and stopover habitat for wild monarchs, while semi-enclosed colonies in the atrium and street side double-skin facade will foster monarch population growth. The insects will have fluid open access to join the wild population, enhancing overall species population numbers.


Principal Investigator, Mitchell Joachim. Project Management, Vivian Kuan. Advisors: Nina Edwards Anker, Lisa Richardson. Architects / Designers: Christian Hubert, Nicholas Gervasi, Maria Aiolova, Anna Bokov, Kristina Goncharov, Yucel Guven, Zhan Xu, Larissa Belcic, Shahira Hammad, Deniz Onder, James Leonard, Zack Saunders, Xinye Lin, Sabrina Naumovski, Theo Dimitrasopoulos, Jules Pepitone, Dan Baker, Daniel S. Castaño, Aidan Nelson, Aleksandr Plotkin, Kristian Knorr, Sophie Falkeis, Rita Wang, Michael Brittenham. Consultants: Bednark, Anouk Wipprecht, Simone Rothman. Sponsors: BASF, Intel, RNR Foundation, Future Air. Client: Kenmare Square LLC. Jackie Jangana, and Andrew Kriss.

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