September 9, 2016

Astellas USA Foundation donates Atrium to the Chicago Botanic Garden's new Learning Center

This week, we attended the grand opening of the Chicago Botanic Garden's new Learning Center, a 26,700-square-foot facility located in the heart of the Regenstein Learning Campus. The goal of the learning campus and center is to bring people of all ages closer to the environment by offering nature-based education and wellness programs throughout the year.

We attended the ceremony to proudly introduce the Astellas Atrium, the main entrance to the Learning Center and central hub that divides it into two wings – the Grainger Wing for classroom education programs, and the public wing for community programs - as part of a $2 million grant from Astellas USA Foundation.

The light-filled atrium shines with Jo Hormuth-designed interpretive artwork that depicts color images distilled from photos of the four seasons, offering a key understanding to color theory as reflected through nature. A large observational beehive tells the story of the honeybee, introducing visitors to the pollinator story – a key theme of the center's educational programming. The Astellas Atrium also features peek-through windows to show the internal mechanics of the building's sustainability features, making the Learning Center a must-see destination for campus visitors.

"We're proud to support the opening of the Regenstein Learning Center, which aligns with our commitment to advancing education in both science and health and well-being,” said Jim Robinson, Board member of Astellas USA Foundation. “The Astellas Atrium is both a symbol and tool for furthering this education. We're proud that Astellas USA Foundation could provide this resource to the Chicago Botanic Garden, to educate and inspire visitors of all ages for many years to come."

We have a long, proud history of support with the Chicago Botanic Garden, including the $1 million donation of the Astellas USA Foundation Economic Botany Lab. Using equipment from the Harris Family Foundation Plant Genetics Laboratory, the Economic Botany Lab aims to identify new medicines by screening the genetic diversity of plants and conducting collaborative research with major university centers.

Additionally, we've engaged Astellas employees to get involved with the Chicago Botanic Garden through volunteerism. Over the past two years, employees have volunteered to help with general garden maintenance in the spirit of Earth Day. Astellas USA Foundation president, Jeff Winton has also volunteered with Astellas employees at the Windy City Harvest Youth Farm in Waukegan, Illinois to help the farm prepare for the growing season.

"Astellas USA Foundation has been a valuable partner over the years, helping us advance our efforts to increase science and nature education through a variety of programs. The contribution of the Economic Botany Lab at the Plant Science Center has also helped make important strides in plant research as it relates to biomedicine and health care," said Jean M. Franczyk, president and chief executive officer of the Chicago Botanic Garden. "The Astellas Atrium is an important symbol of the continuing importance our partnership, and we are proud to feature it in the Learning Center."

The Astellas USA Foundation is proud to continue supporting the Chicago Botanic Garden and its efforts to make science and nature education fun. Together, we're furthering our commitment to advancing health and well-being by identifying new medicines, and encouraging children of all ages to take interest in STEM through nature-based education programs.