Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center

Designed by Weiss/Manfredi Architects, the new visitor center for New York City’s Brooklyn Botanic Garden emerges as an extension of the Garden’s prominent ridge where building and landscape seamlessly merge.

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Located in Brooklyn, New York, the new visitor center is conceived as an inhabitable topography defining a threshold between the city and the garden. To provoke curiosity and interest in the world-class collection, the new building will provide a legible point of arrival and orientation, an interface between garden and city, culture and cultivation.

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This 3-acre landscape design approach is organized around a series of water collecting and bio-infiltration basins and rain gardens designed to alternatively avoid the need for underground detention tanks. A new topography sculpts the garden’s ridge with gentle flowing swales that absorb stormwater run-off while giving shape to exterior event and social spaces. A new landscape typology mimics a riparian plant community of trees, shrubs and forbs, withstanding and thriving within a range of moisture fluctuations. The planting design introduced over 90 new species to the garden’s collection.

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At the center’s entry plaza, a Sourgum grove hosts a rain garden that spatially frames the garden’s entry sequences while providing comfort and botanic interest. Rain gardens, woodland bio-infiltration garden features, and a “shallow intensive” green roof meadow are woven together to create a visually legible contextual landscape framework for the visitor center. These landscape features emerge as a new pedagogical tool to help visitors understand the value of riparian plant life and their ecological role.

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The design of the visitor center is seen as a seamless extension of the landscape. Nested into an existing berm, the center is experienced as a three dimensional continuation of the garden path system, framing a series of views into and through the garden.

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Project awards:

2013
ASLA National Honor Award
ASLA New York Honor Award
Building Brooklyn Award for Design Excellence
American Architecture Awards, Chicago Athenaeum
International Architecture Awards, Chicago Athenaeum
AIA New York State Design Award
World Architecture Festival, Display Category Finalist
MASterworks Award: Best New Urban Amenity, Municipal Art Society

2012
Annual Design Review Architect Magazine
Green Good Design Award: Green Architecture The Chicago Athenaeum
Best Projects ENR New York
Best New Architecture in New York New York Observer
Architizer A+ Awards, Finalist

2008
New York City Public Design Commission Award 2008

text&images: HMWhite, Weiss/Manfredi

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