Como Park


Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park Production Greenhouse

  • Size: Approx 15,000 square feet of production greenhouse space in 7 attached greenhouses
  • Year built: 1989
  • Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Average winter temperature: 14 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Plants grown: A diverse range of plants for the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park including rainforest trees and plants, palm trees, orchids, Bonsai, as well as more traditional plants like ferns, azaleas, poinsettias, tulips, roses, geraniums, and chrysanthemum.
  • Greenhouse manufactured and built by: Albert J. Lauer Inc.
  • ACRYLITE product used: ACRYLITE® Resist high impact acrylic double-skin sheet

 Oh hail yes!

Paul Knuth may be the only person in the greenhouse business to see a damaging hailstorm as a remarkable stroke of good luck.

 Fifteen years ago when his 15,000-square-foot production greenhouse space suffered severe hail damage; the Horticultural Supervisor at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park in St. Paul, Minnesota was more than ready for a change. The polycarbonate glazing that had been installed only 11 years prior had already yellowed and lost a lot of its light transmission capabilities. When it was time to choose a new glazing to replace what had been damaged in the hailstorm, Paul saw ACRYLITE® acrylic as the obvious choice.

“ACRYLITE® presented us with an option that was going to last for decades without yellowing, that could also stand up to Minnesota hailstorms and offer fantastic light transmission. It really made our decision pretty easy and we couldn’t be happier with the results,” says Paul.

 Light, bright and just right for strong, sturdy plant growth

The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park grows an incredibly diverse range of plants, including the largest public Bonsai collection in the upper Midwest, an award-winning neo-tropical orchid collection and a rainforest farm featuring crops such as cocoa, avocado, banana, papaya and coffee. The production greenhouse space, which is glazed with 16 mm ACRYLITE® Resist high impact acrylic double-skin sheet, offers these sensitive plants a wonderful space to start their journey toward graduation to the Conservatory’s public gardens.

 According to Paul, ACRYLITE®’s light transmission qualities make a noticeable impact on the health of his plants, “We’ve noticed differences in our plants that are grown under ACRYLITE® compared to those grown under glass. They tend to be more compact and sturdy, which is important, because with too much stretch they just don’t want to stand up. We also see a difference in terms of vibrancy of color, and I think that’s directly related to the fact that with ACRYLITE® they’re benefitting from 86% light transmission.”

In addition to high light transmission, ACRYLITE®’s multi-walled rib geometry diffuses the light in the greenhouse, creating a uniformity of light and preventing hot and cold spots and severe shadowing.

Strong, sturdy and easy to maintain for decades of trouble-free operation

Having seen the damage caused hail, durability was a key factor in determining a replacement for the greenhouse’s polycarbonate glazing. Over the last 15 years, ACRYLITE® has stood up to Minnesota’s hailstorms time and again. According to Paul, “We’ve seen golf ball-sized hail come down, and there has been absolutely no damage.” ACRYLITE®’s best-in-class hail protection warranties provide additional peace of mind.

As well as being durable, Paul reports that ACRYLITE® has made the production greenhouse incredibly easy to maintain, “ACRYLITE® is maintenance free. We don’t have to wash it or spray it and the inside is dry, so it doesn’t get dirty. We haven’t touched it in 15 years! With glass you tend to get condensation so you have to wash the inside to prevent algae and dirt, that just isn’t required with ACRYLITE®.”

ACRYLITE®’s patented No-Drip anti-condensate technology creates a water-dispersing layer that allows condensation to flow off as a continuous self-cleaning film. In addition to eliminating the need for cleaning, it also ensures the highest possible light transmission and eliminates uncontrolled dripping that can result in crop damage and disease.

An investment for decades to come

Nine years after the initial section of ACRYLITE® glazing was installed, Paul was ready to replace the balance of the production greenhouse’s weathered polycarbonate. The choice was clear. Paul chose ACRYLITE® and it’s a choice he’d make again and again, “ACRYLITE® is the only glazing product I would recommend. The company has been around for years and the life span of this product is equally impressive. It doesn’t get better than a 30-year warranty against yellowing. That’s an amazing lifespan – not even your roof at home lasts that long.”

Speaking of impressive lifespans, this year the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park celebrates its 100th anniversary. ACRYLITE® is proud to be helping this one-of-a-kind facility continue to fulfill its mission of inspiring the public to value the presence of living things in their lives.