A Natural Balance celebrates 20 years of the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens


A beautifully illustrated book with full-colour images has been published to mark the 20th anniversary of Acadia’s K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens.

A Natural Balance is both an indispensable book for anyone interested in the plants and trees of the Acadian forest and a visual record of a spectacular instance of North American collegiate architecture. Landscape architect Alex Novell and architectural historian John Leroux tell the story of the design, construction, and features of the Centre and the Gardens.

“Arthur Irving’s original idea to bring together environmental study of the region with a central meeting place on campus and gardens of wild flora was unique and brilliant,” says Novell, who was the project master planner. “After centuries of garden design where the emphasis has been on the plant collector, the breeder and the designer, we are now looking for gardens which celebrate the natural world and contribute to our understanding of ecology and biodiversity. In this, it was ahead of its time.”

“From the first time I walked through the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre doors, I realized that I was experiencing one of the finest feats of architecture the region had seen in several generations,” says Leroux.

The Centre and Gardens took nearly three years to research and design, and a further two years to build. They were created as places for people to enjoy the natural world and to participate in learning and research. For Acadia students, they are also spaces for quiet relaxation and study.

“These places are integral to the fabric that make up Acadia University, the town of Wolfville, and the generations of students, staff, community members, and visitors that frequent them,” says Sarah Lavallée, fourth-year Acadia student and Irving Scholar. “I hope readers feel the energy, the sense of wonder, and appreciation for the natural world that the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre inspires in all those who enter.”

“From its genesis, the purpose of the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens has been to enhance the student experience at Acadia University,” says Dr. Peter Ricketts, Acadia’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “In that same spirit, this book captures the essence of this world-class facility that has shaped Acadia's landscape, ignited our passion for research and learning, and served our community as a place to connect and engage. As much as it is a testament to an architectural and infrastructure achievement like no other, this book is also a fitting tribute to the Irving family's service to our community, which is an integral part of Acadia's story.”

“Creating the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens is our gift to Acadia University, which we proudly share with you in photos, history, stories and memories on these pages,” says Arthur Irving, Chancellor Emeritus. “My wish is that it holds Acadia in good stead for a very long time in the opportunities the Gardens and the Centre provide students in their academic pursuits.”

A Natural Balance is published by the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens at Acadia University. It is available at bookstores throughout Canada as well as through its distributor, Goose Lane Editions, and at the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre.

For more, please see Acadia University’s media release.


Go back