While the custom prefab building envelope had limited options (exterior panel colors available were limited to the blue we chose, fire-engine red, or neutral taupe) we were able to incorporate roof monitors to bring light in at the tops of the office and workroom spaces, to provide shade on the larger south-facing windows, and to develop an entrance with glazed airlock and roof. The loading dock on the other end of the headhouse is covered with a canopy-like, trapezoidal roof.

Much of the site development was ironically minimally landscaped, dictated by Smithsonian Gardens. The buildings were surrounded by a band of bluestone to minimize the likelihood of thrips being sucked into the greenhouses by their ventilation systems and infesting collections.