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Botanical Building Background

Balboa Park Botanical Building in 1915The Balboa Park Botanical Building was built in 1915 as part of the Panama-California Exposition and is one of only four structures that were designed to remain as permanent features in the park. Recognized as one of the largest wood lath structures in the world, the building was designed to showcase the importance of horticulture and is home to hundreds of plants including rare, tropical and indigenous fauna. 

The building underwent a major renovation in the 1950s with smaller projects completed in the 2000s. This project is designed to restore the building to its original 1915 design. 


Project Description

The project will be delivered in two phases.

Phase I, which is led by the City of San Diego, includes a complete building restoration, structural improvements, replacement of redwood lath, reconstruction of the historic window arcades, planter upgrades, accessibility improvements, expansion and remodeling of the maintenance area, and the addition of an entrance and additional staff room on the north side of the structure.

Phase II, which is being managed by the City's nonprofit partner, Forever Balboa Park, includes exterior landscaping and irrigation, as well as the reconstruction of the historic pergola.

Rendering of the Balboa Park Botanical Building after improvements


Project Timeline

  • September 2021 - Design phase began.Exterior of the Balboa Park Botanical Building during construction
  • January 2022 - Botanical Building closed to the public to begin transferring plants and start the structural assessment, which is necessary to complete the design package.
  • December 2023 - Anticipated project completion.*

Project Budget

The project's current total budget is $21,453,000.* Funding for the project is from the following sources:

  • $580,156 regional park improvements.
  • $300,000 capital outlay.
  • $8 million state grant.
  • $12,572,844 commercial paper.

Transfer of Plants

Plants in the Balboa Park Botanical BuildingThe Balboa Park Botanical Building is typically home to hundreds of plants, but during this project only a few larger species that could not be safely removed and preserved will remain in the building. Visitors enjoying the plants in the Balboa Park Botanical BuildingMany of the plants have been inventoried and carefully moved to an offsite nursery where they will stay for the duration of the project to receive proper care. Upon completion of construction, many of the plants will be brought back to the Botanical Building to be replanted to bring beauty and life back to the renovated structure.


Contact Us

If you have additional questions about this project please email BotanicalBuilding@sandiego.gov.


*Project timeline and budget are subject to change.