The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center wins 2014 AIA Honor Award for Architecture



The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center wins 2014 AIA Honor Award for ArchitectureThe Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center is located within the berm that separates the Brooklyn Museum parking lot from the botanic garden. The Garden contains a variety of landscapes organized into discrete settings; the Visitor Center serves as legible point of arrival and orientation, and it defines a new threshold between the city and the landscapes of the 52-acre garden.

The Visitor Center has an architectural presence at Washington Avenue yet transitions into a structured landscape as it moves into the botanic garden. Nestled into the berm on the north side and topped with an undulating green roof, the building blends gracefully into the landscape. On the south side, too, the design mediates the relationship between “culture” and “cultivation” through veiled views into the Garden from the exhibition gallery. The gallery’s curved glass surfaces are spectrally selective and fritted to minimize heat gain and maximize natural illumination. In addition to the gallery, the Center’s program includes an information lobby, orientation room, restrooms, gift shop, café, catering and kitchen, and an event space.

Beyond the native grasses planted on the green roof and the drought-resistant species that populate the landscape, the Center integrates other sustainable elements (a geothermal exchange and a rain garden, for example) to further its educational mission and environmental goals. Materials were purchased locally, and quite appropriately a century-old Ginko tree was successfully transplanted on-site, while other trees in conflict were harvested, milled, and integrated into interior finishes.


Designed by Weiss/Manfredi, the Visitor Center has earned LEED Gold certification. The slope of the roof, pitched from 4 to 27 degrees, is a prominent visual element of the site; the green roof profile and slope stabilization system was designed by Roofmeadow. The semi-intensive green roof is planted with a richly textured variety of grasses, flowering perennials and bulbs. New York Green Roofs provided the installation as well as ongoing maintenance services. The green roof is expected to harvest almost 200,000 gallons of water each year.


The American Institute of Architects Honor Awards program recognizes achievements for a broad range of architectural activity to elevate the general quality of architecture practice, establish a standard of excellence against which all architects can measure performance, and inform the public of the breadth and value of architecture practice.

Sources: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database


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