Virtual tour offers a peek inside Winnipeg's future Diversity Gardens

The $97.8-million development is set to open in late 2020, concluding the final major phase of the redevelopment of Assiniboine Park and Zoo that began in 2009.

Project worth $97.8-million set to open late 2020: Assiniboine Park Conservancy

This artist's rendering of the tropical biome at Diversity Garden depicts a six-storey waterfall and pond. (Supplied)

The Assiniboine Park Conservancy is offering a peek into its anticipated conservatory project, with a virtual tour showing what the Diversity Gardens project will look like when it's done.

The development is set to open in late 2020, concluding the final major phase of the redevelopment of Assiniboine Park and Zoo that started in 2009.

The makeover, originally estimated at $200 million, included improvements to the duck pond, the building of the Qualico Centre and the Nature Playground, and the revitalization of the zoo.

The conservatory project will include an indoor conservatory called The Leaf, which will be five times larger and twice as tall as the old conservatory.

The cost estimate for the project has jumped to $97.8 million from the original $75 million, the conservancy said in a news release Monday. The increase is due to multiple factors, including a one-year delay in construction and the overall design complexity of The Leaf, it said.

The conservancy has said the roof of the structure will be made of an extremely lightweight, see-through plastic — ethylene-tetra-fluoro-ethylene — allowing the structure to be an open space without the use of heavy beams and walls.

Construction on the shell started in summer 2017, and installation of the specialized roof is set to start in early fall. If that goes to plan, the biomes inside The Leaf will be planted in summer 2020, the conservancy said.

The roof of the main building, called The Leaf, will be made of light-weight plastic that is translucent and able to withstand extreme temperatures and wind. (Supplied)

Outside, a group of garden spaces will be collectively called the Diversity Gardens. Landscape work started last year, the conservancy said, and opening of the outdoor areas will depend on completion of The Leaf.

So far, the project has secured $79.5 million from all levels of government, private donors and other sources, the conservancy said. That doesn't include newly confirmed dollars from private donors expected to be announced in the coming months, the release added.

"With the ongoing support of our donors and government partners we are looking forward to completing this transformation and the opening of The Leaf and diversity gardens in late 2020," conservancy president Margaret Redmond said in the release.