The centerpiece of the Arboretum’s Branching Out! Initiative is the new 36,000 square-foot Visitor Center. Designed by Chicago’s David Woodhouse Architects, the Visitor Center embraces the Arboretum’s naturalistic style, incorporating environmentally friendly materials such as fieldstone, glass, and many species of wood. The building features two pavilions joined by a grand, covered gateway.
The plants of the Arboretum come from more than 50 in north temperate regions of the world. Once planted in the Arboretum's collections, plants can be evaluated for their ability to survive the challenging climate of northern Illinois (Zone 5) and ultimately for their use in landscapes. The plants are grouped into collections themes, which helps in their interpretation and evaluation. Each accessioned plant in the collections has a label bearing its name, location, and date of inclusion into the collection.