in Addition to Numerous Design Awards
Release Date: October 3, 2013
Designed by the New York–based multidisciplinary design practice WEISS/MANFREDI, the Visitor Center opened in May 2012 as a key part of BBG’s major renewal efforts, launched on the occasion of the Garden’s centennial. The 20,000-square-foot Visitor Center is a dynamic synthesis of architecture and landscape design, conceived as a threshold between the city and Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It transitions from a glass-walled architectural presence on Washington Avenue to a sinuous structure with a living roof that becomes a seamless extension of BBG’s 52-acre landscape. Among the environmentally sustainable features that have earned the Visitor Center LEED Gold certification are high-performing fritted glass on the south wall, to minimize heat gain and maximize natural illumination; a north side built into a preexisting berm to increase thermal efficiency; 28 ground-source thermal wells that serve the cooling and heating demands of the building; a series of rain gardens that collect and filter runoff to improve storm-water management; and, most visibly, a 10,000-square-foot leaf-shaped living roof covered with over 40,000 plants, including native grasses, spring bulbs, and perennial wildflowers.
“In keeping with BBG’s commitment to researching, presenting, and promoting a sustainable city, we are proud to earn LEED Gold status for our Visitor Center,” said Scot Medbury, president of Brooklyn Botanic Garden. “WEISS/MANFREDI’S vibrant design for the Visitor Center has not only transformed BBG’s connection to its community, but its features encourage continued thought and dialogue on sustainability in the urban environment.” “The project’s sustainable design has exceptional breadth of ambition and purpose that resonates with our design philosophy and practice. As a LEED Gold building, the BBG Visitor Center boldly advances the mutual agendas of architecture and landscape,” said architects Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi. “What could be more apropos for a botanic garden than to showcase a landscape through sculpted topography and native plant communities that absorb and clean storm water?” said Hank White, principal of HMWhite (Landscape Architects).
In addition to receiving LEED Gold certification, the Visitor Center has recently won or been recognized with a number of international architecture awards, including the distinguished Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Award (2013), Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award (2013), the American Institute of Architects New York State (AIANYS) Design Award (2013), and the American Society of Landscape Architects National Honor Award (2013). Other recent awards and recognitions include the following: World Architecture Festival, Display Category Finalist (2013); The Municipal Art Society MASterworks Award: Best New Urban Amenity (2013); Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Building Brooklyn Awards’ National Grid Award for Energy Efficiency (2013); New York American Society of Landscape Architects, Landscape and Living Roof (2013); World-Architects.com Building of the Year, Second Place (2013); Architect Magazine Annual Design Review, Bond Category Winner (2012); Green Architecture: Chicago Athenaeum, Green Good Design Award (2012); Engineering News Record (ENR) New York, Best Projects (2012); Architizer A+ Awards, Landscape-Parks (2012); and Excellence in Design, New York City Public Design Commission Award (2012).
About Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Founded in 1910, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) is an independent nonprofit institution committed to education, science, and horticultural display. The Garden is located on property owned by the City of New York, and its operation is made possible in part by public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. For more than a century, BBG has served communities in New York City and internationally through its extraordinary gardens, extensive living collections, and pioneering educational and community programs. The Garden continues today its legacy of educating new generations of environmental stewards. Situated on 52 acres in the heart of Brooklyn and originally laid out by the Olmsted Brothers landscape design firm, BBG is home to more than 12,000 types of plants and hosts more than 750,000 visitors annually. Brooklyn Botanic Garden was rated Brooklyn’s number one tourist attraction in Zagat’s 2008 Best of Brooklyn. For more information, visit bbg.org.
WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism is a multidisciplinary design practice based in New York City. Founded by Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, the firm is known for the dynamic integration of architecture, art, infrastructure, and landscape design. The firm’s projects, including the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, the Barnard College Diana Center, and the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, exemplify the potential of architecture to transform public space. The firm has won numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the international VR Green Prize for Urban Design. They have also been named one of North America's "Emerging Voices" by the Architectural League of New York, and received the New York City AIA Gold Medal of Honor. Michael Manfredi has been the Gensler Visiting Professor at Cornell University and Marion Weiss is the Graham Chair Professor of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.
Primary Project Partners
In addition to WEISS/MANFREDI, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Visitor Center was developed with a team of design, engineering, and construction partners, including HMWhite (Landscape Architects) (landscape architecture consultant); Thinc Design (exhibition designers); the LiRo Group (construction management); E.W. Howell (general contractor); Weidlinger Associates (structural and civil engineers); Langan (geothermal, geotechnical, and environmental consultants); Viridian Energy & Environment (sustainability consultants); Jaros, Baum & Bolles Consulting Engineers (M/E/P/FP and IT engineers)—and Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s own staff.