Project of the Week for May 16, 2016: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center

May 16, 2016 at 1:37 pm
Project of the Week Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center

Visitor Center aerial shot at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by © Albert Vecerka-ESTO. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Click to learn more in The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database. Project of the Week: 5/16/16


Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center
Brooklyn, New York, USA
9,690 sf. Greenroof

Project of the Week Description & Details

Founded in 1910, the 52-acre Brooklyn Botanic Garden is an urban botanic garden that connects people to the world of plants, fostering delight and curiosity while inspiring an appreciation and sense of stewardship of the environment. Embedded into an existing hillside in its northeast corner, the new LEED Gold certified Diane H. and Joseph S. Steinberg Visitor Center offers an exciting and innovative gateway into the garden. Designed by Weiss/Manfredi, the $28-million Visitor Center is a model of energy-efficient design, including earth-sheltered construction, a geoexchange system for heating and cooling, fritted-glass walls, and a striking undulating green roof. Seamlessly melding architecture and landscape, the 20,000-square-foot sinuous glass building has dual roofs: pleated copper on top of the gift shop on the east side, which will eventually oxidize to a greenish patina, and the leaf-shaped living roof on the west.

Project of the Week Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center

The serpentine form of the living roof hosts over 40,000 plants, supplied by Intrinsic Perennial Gardens, in a richly textured variety of grasses, flowering perennials, and bulbs, including a number of native species. Thriving in all seasons, the biodiverse green roof attracts a variety of birds and pollinators. The slope is a prominent visual element of the site, pitched from 4 to 27 degrees, including a peak in the roof’s center. Roofmeadow designed the green roof profile and the slope stabilization system. Roofmeadow and Sika Sarnafil (the waterproofing provider), are warranting the assembly for a period of 20 years. As a condition of the warranty New York Green Roofs, who also installed the green roof, is maintaining the roofscape. Landscape architecture firm HM White Site Architects incorporated the green roof into the site’s stormwater management strategy and the vegetated roof is expected to harvest almost 200,000 gallons of water each year. The multi-award winning Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center is an inspired example of innovative and sustainable design with its engaging exhibits, enhanced visitor amenities, and gracious event space.

Project of the Week Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center

Project of the Week Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center

Year: 2011
Owner: Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Building Type: Educational
Type: Semi-Intensive, Test/Research
System: Custom
Size: 9,690 sq.ft.
Slope: 21%
Access: Inaccessible, Open to Public

Project of the Week Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center

Photo ©Albert Vecerka Esto, Courtesy of Roofmeadow.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:

Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism: WEISS/MANFREDI
Landscape Architect:
HM White Site Architects
EW Howell General Contractor
Green Roof System Provider and Designer:
Waterproofing Manufacturer:
Sika Sarnafil
Growing Media:
Pant Supplier:
Intrinsic Perennial Gardens
Greenroof Installer & Maintenance:
New York Green Roofs
New York Green Roofs
Post Construction Maintenance Management:

Project of the Week Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center

Project of the Week Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center

Photo ©Albert Vecerka Esto, Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Project of the Week Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center

View the PROJECT PROFILE to see ALL of the Photos and Additional Information about this particular project in The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

Project of the Week Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center

Project of the Week Video Feature

Watch the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center Project of the Week Video below or see it on our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube:

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Love the Earth, Plant a Roof (or Wall)!

By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP Publisher

Recommended Readings: “The Farm on the Roof” by Anastasia Cole Plakias

April 27, 2016 at 6:09 pm

The Farm on the Roof

I just finished The Farm on the Roof: What Brooklyn Grange Taught Us About Entrepreneurship, Community, and Growing a Sustainable Business, Avery, April 5, 2016, by Anastasia Cole Plakias, vice president and founding partner of Brooklyn Grange.  Driven by their visionary and tenacious spirit, we’ve followed the young company from the start because of Ben Flanner, president and head farmer, whom we had followed from his prior work at Eagle Street Farm – and, in fact, supported their Brooklyn Grange Kickstarter campaign in a very small way back in 2010.  So we are always happy to hear about their happenings and I eagerly read about how Brooklyn Grange got its start and has evolved into a shining beacon for sustainable urban rooftop farming.

The Farm on the Roof

The Brooklyn Grange Flagship Farm in Long Island City, Queens, NY.

Currently spanning two rooftops, Brooklyn Grange grows an abundance of crops atop a total of 2.5 acres, producing over 50,000 lbs of organically-grown vegetables each year.  They also operate an apiary, keeping bees in over 30 naturally-managed honey bee hives, on roofs dispersed throughout New York City.  As a result of their tenacity, Brooklyn Grange is the U.S.’s leading soil-based rooftop farming and intensive greenroofing business, and the farms bear the fruits of their labor – in this case with their wholesale, retail, and CSA members literally eating the fruits of their labor!

The Farm on the Roof

Celebrating with neighbors and colleagues at a Flagship Farm event.

Pleasantly surprised by the structure of the book, I am also very impressed not only by the team’s successes, but with their whole-hearted respect and commitment to each other and the communities in which they grow at their Flagship Farm in Queens, New York and the Brooklyn Navy Yard rooftop farm.

“In 2009, a hopeful group of individuals found each other and their purpose. From backgrounds as varied as finance, hospitality, and writing, the founders of Brooklyn Grange set out to grow food on the rooftops and unused spaces of NYC. What they found was a world rich in opportunity, challenges and hard-won lessons. The Farm on the Roof tells the story of how their unique approach to entrepreneurship allowed them to turn a previously untested concept—an ecologically and financially sustainable rooftop farm—into an operating, money-making enterprise.” ~ from their publisher, Avery

Presented in an a non-lineal format, the gritty narrative draws in readers immediately with stories of the nascent ideals, inspirations and aspirations, cautions, and many struggles of the start-up from the kindred spirits of the founding members, Anastasia Cole Plakias, Gwen Schantz, and Ben Flanner, who started the business in 2009 with help from two of the owners of Roberta’s, and now operate the farms with partner Chase Emmons, who joined the team in 2011.

The Farm on the Roof

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Farm

Starting with “The Crossroads of Complicity and Conviction: Why We Left Steady Jobs to Take a Chance on a Dream” and ending with “It Takes a Village: The Partnerships That Make Us Whole,” The Farm on the Roof flows beautifully and organically – almost like a well-written novel.  Readers glean insight into each founding partner’s background, their desire to be able to work at a job they loved where they felt they could achieve measurable progress; at the end, you get a sense of knowing a good bit about their personas and commitment to each other.  In this way The Farm on the Roof offers an intimate, behind-the scenes look at the principals and the farms on a daily basis as well as the greater perspective of where they came from individually and how they would like to continue to grow as a well-knit team.

Although Anastasia does go in depth regarding vegetable crops, soil issues, farming conditions of a roof in the sky, etc., this is not so much a How-To on rooftop agriculture as it is on creating a small, sustainably-principled and run business.  This is truly a book for anyone considering starting a small business, offering insight into making sure the partners have similar ideals and goals; sharing numerous lessons learned from strategic dealings with public and private stakeholders; giving advice on the importance of record keeping and number-crunching as well as selling techniques to wary roof landlords; fostering community-focused products and programs; creating multiple revenue streams such as their events, lectures, and educational programs; and when time and money are of the essence, simply pushing through the hard times, or “just monster it” as they say.

The Farm on the Roof

Yoga atop the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Anastasia says her name may be on the book, but all of her family of Brooklyn Grange crew members contributed greatly to their story, and examples and specifics abound.  I certainly recommend The Farm on the Roof to anyone considering entering the hard-working field of urban rooftop agriculture and really to everyone considering getting into our greenroofing market with any type of a small brick and mortar business – tons of great insights, and lots of do’s and don’ts here in this inspirational book!

Here are some early words of praise:

“Brooklyn Grange represents the best of passion and purity. Every page of this book oozes the sweet nectar of creativity, community, and commercial wisdom. That the story reads like a fast-paced novel simply confirms the power of visionary sustainable businesses.” ~ Joel Salatin, Author, Farmer, and Owner of Polyface Farm

“This book answers the big, tormenting question: how can a small, organic, local farm become financially independent? It’s a blue print for the term “Sustainable Agriculture,” which requires not only that we don’t pollute Mother Earth, but that we find ways to make farming work financially in order to perpetuate and sustain it.” ~ Isabella Rossellini, Actress, Filmmaker, Author, and Conservationist

Aramis and I had the great pleasure to attend a private dinner function at the awesome Brooklyn Navy Yard rooftop farm last October at the 2015 Cities Alive Green Roof & Wall Conference, sponsored by rooflite®, whose intensive ag growing media they use at both farms.  We enjoyed a lovely dinner among colleagues and the stars and the folks at Brooklyn Grange.  If you have the opportunity to visit either of the farms, you should! Just check on availability first at their website.

The Farm on the Roof

A view of the Flagship Farm; photo courtesy of rooflite®.

And I have featured Brooklyn Grange a couple of times over the years in Haven Kiers’ and my annual Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design, most recently last year in the #9 category “Beekeeping on the Roof: Biodiversity with Pollinators.”  In 2013 Ben Flanner participated in our second biennial Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit in the collaborative video “Skyrise Ag: 5 Ways to Local Food Production” with Helen Cameron, Mohamed Hage, George Irwin, Ben Flanner and Alan Joaquin.  You can watch the video here.

More info:


Read The Farm on the Roof Penguin Random House Press Release.

Buy The Farm on the Roof on or visit Brooklyn Grange for a list of other sellers here.  And if you’re in the neighborhood on May 15th, you can attend a book reading at KGB Bar as part of a guest-curated series on food-related readings!  For more info, contact Brooklyn Grange at or leave them a message at 347.670.3660.

The Farm on the Roof

An evening at the Brooklyn Navy Yard rooftop farm.

Kudos, Anastasia, on a great job telling the Brooklyn Grange story!

By Linda S. Velazquez Publisher Announces the “2015 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design”

October 28, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Our Design Editor Haven Kiers and I recently inaugurated our yearly “Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design” at CitiesAlive 2015 in Brooklyn, and it was awesome!  We had a wonderful turn out, and as usual, we had a great time sharing our vision of trending projects and designers.

Now Aramis and I are off to Singapore next week where I’ll present it solo at the International Skyrise Greenery Conference (ISGC) 2015 on November 5-7.  The ISGC also promises to be a fantastic event if it was anything like our first trip there when I spoke in 2010 at their inaugural conference.


If you have not seen our actual 2015 Top List, here’s our Press Release:

The World Wide Web. – October 4, 2015 – Now in our ninth year,’s dynamic Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwalls Design holds the promise of exciting and important new projects from local and international designers to thrill, invigorate, and inspire you.  Compiled yearly since 2007 by Publisher Linda S. Velazquez and Design Editor Haven Kiers, they spotlight newsworthy, spectacular, sometimes fantastical, forward-thinking designs and designers. is proud to inaugurate the 2015 Top 10 Hot List this week at the 13th Annual 2015 CitiesAlive Green Roof & Wall Conference in Brooklyn, New York on October 5 – 8 where both Haven and Linda will be presenting.  Also, Linda will share this year’s Top 10 in Singapore at the International Skyrise Greenery Conference (ISGC) on November 5-7, 2015.

“While promoting the global living architecture industry and community here on a daily basis, it’s extremely important to highlight yearly market trends and feature some of the best and brightest designs as inspiration to us all. ” ~ Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP

In addition to unique examples of client specific boutique greenroofs and walls that always defy categorization, the buzz in 2015 encompasses trends from across the planet that have been building momentum since the end of 2014.  We’re seeing increased growth in specific market sectors, such as the sports industry, as well as particular areas of the world such as Washington, D.C. and the Mediterranean region.  With the decline of bees and other pollinators posing a direct threat to the world’s food supply, ecologists are stepping up – to the roof – to help the plight of the bee through design.  And the trend of the mega greenroof is once again on the rise, as in the case of massive rooftop parks.  Another category with intensive greenroofs, Urban Rooftop Forests, is also popular because of the deeper growing medium’s ability to sustain and nurture trees, who in turn nurture us all.

“As usual, we comb the globe high and low in search of built and proposed projects that catch our design eye and progressive spirit with an attractive combination of ecosensitivity and chic sustainability.” ~ Haven Kiers, MLA, LEED AP, GRP

The Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design for 2015:

10) “Client Specific ‘Boutique’ Greenroofs & Greenwalls”

9) “Beekeeping on the Roof: Biodiversity with Pollinators”

8) Living Architecture in Mediterranean Climates”

7) “Green Transportation Corridors”

6) “Greening Our Capital: Washington DC’s Stately Greenroofs”

5) “Fields of Green: Big League Sports Venues”

4) “Trees, Trees, Trees: Urban Rooftop Forests”

3) “Rooftop Parks: Green Playgrounds of the Rich, Private, & Public”

2) “The Influence of Architects & Designers – Taking a Leadership Role in Design:
William McDonough+Partners and BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) Architects”

1) “Visionary Wonders of the Green World”

As usual, for 2015 we have reserved the #1 spot for insightful and avant-garde eco-masterpieces with a sky high wow factor.

~ Linda V.

Don’t Miss the Last Early Bird Discount for 2015 CitiesAlive Ending This Friday, September 18!

September 16, 2015 at 4:19 pm

Last Chance for the CitiesAlive 2015 in NYC Early Bird Discount Plus the Exclusive Hotel Rate!

Hosted by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) for the 13th time, the 2015 CitiesAlive Green Roof and Wall Conference in Brooklyn is just around the corner!  Have you finalized all of your plans yet?  Most importantly, have you registered?


Don’t forget to:

Register before September 18th for the Last Early Bird Discount  + Special Hotel Rate!

That’s this Friday!

As usual, CitiesAlive is going to be a great event with tons of activities, learning, networking, and just plain fun.  And you can’t get a better city than New York to accommodate it all!

GRHC has done a great job in putting all of this together.  Join over 60 expert speakers in the field of sustainability examining themes of resilience including:


Terrapin partner and co-founder Bill Browning has received this year’s Design for Humanity Award, presented by the American Society for Interior Designers.
Bill Browning will be featured at CitiesAlive as a keynote speaker. His address will inform you about the science of biophilic design and how living architecture contributes to productivity, health, and happiness.
Birgit Siber is a principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects where sustainable design is central to her work. She incorporated the first large scale living wall biofilter at the University of Guelph-Humber.
Along with Alan Darlington, Founder and Vice President of Nedlaw Living Walls, Birgit will explore the design, functionality, and return on investment of living wall biofilters.
Bruce Fowle co-founded FXFOWLE in 1978 and has guided the firm to international recognition for excellence in design, pioneering socially and  environmentally responsible architecture and planning.
Using the renovation and expansion of the Javits Center as a case study, Bruce will discuss the complexity of choreographing the updating of the building systems.

I would be pretty amiss if I also didn’t say to please come and see our Design Editor Haven Kiers and my presentation at CitiesAlive – our annual Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design for 2015 .  We’ll be releasing the 2015 Top 10 List Press Release soon, so stay tuned for that, too:


Linda Velazquez, ASLA, GRP, LEED AP, is the founder and publisher of (1999) and the principal of Sky Gardens Design. publishes The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database, The Greenroof & Greenwall Directory, and the GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube. produces the biennial Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summits (2015, 2013, 2011).
Haven Kiers, MLA, LEED AP, GRP, designs and presents nationally about greenroofs and is a founding partner of GreenSwell Design and Planning. She is a trainer with Green Roofs for Healthy Cities where she facilitates the Green Roof 101, 201, & 401 Courses. Haven also teaches courses at the University of California, Davis. Haven is the Design Editor on (2005).

Other activities at CitiesAlive include:

A la carte Registration to fit your schedule
Attend exclusive networking Events like a rooftop dinner and a networking cruise
Receive a special discounted rate for On-Site Accommodations
Discover products and people at the Trade Show
Cutting-edge Training opportunities
Full show Program available for details.

And, check out just some of these awesome CitiesAlive tours on Wednesday, October 7:


L – R Photos: Mark Morrison; Art Elmers; David Sundberg.

Visionaire Rooftop
Wednesday October 7th
3pm – 5pm: $29
1 Hotel Central Park
Wednesday October 7th
3pm – 5pm: $29

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center Roof
Wednesday October 7th
3pm – 5pm: $29
Attend this unique tour of a roof terrace designed by Mark K. Morrison Landscape Architecture, located on the 35th floor of a LEED Platinum-certified condominium in lower Manhattan. This project features a large potager vegetable garden with vertical screens for climbing vegetables and a fruit orchard with dwarf trees as well as a cold frame for year round harvest, an herb garden in a knot design, and a patch for berries. Visit this new green hotel on Sixth Avenue just one block from Central Park in the heart of Manhattan and explore the inner workings of the efficiency irrigation and fertilization system installed by Netafim that supports a three-story exterior living wall.  Other eco-friendly design features, including the use of reclaimed and natural materials throughout the hotel, reflect 1 Hotel’s commitment to sustainability.
Visit the Javits Convention Center, home to the second largest green roof on a single, free-standing building in the USA installed by Xeroflor. This 292,000 square foot rooftop has been transformed into an energy-saving green haven using sedum grown on a farm in Upstate New York. A recent study found that the roof has attracted nearly a dozen different species of birds who are using the green roof for nesting and breeding.

And these tours on Thursday, October 8:


L – R Photos: Greensulate; Sun Works Center for Environmental Studies; Barbara Norman.

Regis High School
Thursday October 8th
3pm – 5pm: $29
Sun Works Center for Environmental Studies
Thursday October 8th
3pm – 5pm: $29
PS41 – The Greenwich Village School Green Roof, Thursday October 8th, 3pm – 5pm: $29
Explore one of New York City’s largest green roofs with this exclusive tour of Regis High School’s rooftop gardens. Tucked away above Regis’ stately, landmark designated facade, this mini-ecosystem includes native grasses, solar panels, an observatory, apiaries, and herb gardens that supply the school’s cafeteria. Joining us to discuss the design and the environmental benefits of the green roof will be Alexander Roth, Greensulate’s lead landscape designer. The Tour will conclude with a small wine reception. The Sun Works Center for Environmental Studies at P.S. 333, The Manhattan School for Children, is a rooftop environmental education greenhouse, producing hydroponically grown vegetables on the Upper West Side. The project was designed by NY Sun Works, a non-profit organization that builds hydroponic science labs in urban schools. It provides science and sustainability education for approximately 150 K-8th grade students every day. The GELL Project Greenroof Environmental Literacy Laboratory is the first green roof installed by the New York City Department of School Construction Authority (SCA). A 15,000 sq. ft. LiveRoof system covers the building with a wide variety of sedums and New York native plants. The tour will be led by science teacher and project founder Vicki Sando, who will discuss navigating the design process, funding, and construction of this $2 million-dollar project along with how the green roof is integrated into the curriculum.

See all of the tour descriptions at CitiesAlive here.


And, don’t miss the Closing Dinner on Wednesday October 5th which is sure to be an outstanding event, courtesy of Rooflite, on the Brooklyn Grange Roof Farm #1.


We here at hope to see you next month at CitiesAlive 2015!

~ Linda V.