South Garden Project Construction FAQ
Q: What is the South Garden Project?
The South Garden Project is a suite of site improvements that will enhance the visitor experience and strengthen BBG’s infrastructure in the southern third of the Garden, closest to the Flatbush Avenue entrance. Phase 1 of the project, completed in spring 2015, includes the following:
- A relocated and expanded Discovery Garden to offer children an extraordinary new space for hands-on exploration and fun;
- A new Flatbush Avenue entrance with a small entry pavilion containing restrooms and a ticketing booth, an Early Spring Garden, and a renewal of the historic McKim, Mead & White brick archway;
- A relocated and expanded outdoor food kiosk.
Phases 2 and 3 of the South Garden Project include the creation of a new Water Garden and the completion of a larger water conservation project and are projected to begin in 2015. The South Garden Project is a key element in BBG’s Campaign for the Next Century, a multiyear effort that creates four acres of new or expanded garden space as part of BBG’s most significant renewal since its founding over 100 years ago. These projects are the result of more than a decade of careful planning by BBG’s staff and trustees. BBG is grateful to the wide range of public and private donors who have supported the long-term vitality of the Garden.
Q. Why is the South Garden Project happening?
After 105 years as a pioneering urban garden, BBG is preparing for the next century of service to the neighborhood, the borough, and the more than 750,000 visitors who come to the Garden each year from near and far. The South Garden Project is one of a series of strategically planned Garden–wide projects based on community, sustainability, and ecologically sound practices that will update facilities from earlier decades that no longer meet the needs of a major cultural institution.
Q: What can I expect when I visit?
BBG will be open and as lively as ever! An area in the southern part of the Garden will be fenced off during Phase 2 of the construction. BBG and its project partners will work to ensure that noise from construction is mitigated to help preserve the tranquility of the Garden.
Q. Are these “green” projects?
Yes! A principal concern for the Garden is the environmental footprint of each of its capital projects. The South Garden Project is introducing thousands of square feet of new planting space to BBG. And like the new Visitor Center, the gardens and Flatbush Avenue entry pavilion have been designed to meet high standards of sustainability and incorporate local and/or sustainable building materials. The 950-–square–foot entry building includes low–flow water fixtures, features to maximize natural light, and high–efficiency artificial light fixtures.
Storm water collected from the building will be directed into a garden–wide water catchment system, which together with other key elements of the Campaign for the Next Century projects—including the new Visitor Center, the forthcoming Water Garden, and a larger future water recirculation project—will reduce 90 percent of BBG’s current runoff into the municipal wastewater system. The Discovery Garden and Early Spring Garden are planted in part with native plants, which are adapted to thrive in our environment and require less maintenance.
Q. What has been planted at the new Flatbush Avenue entrance?
Among the new plantings encompassing the overall South Garden Project, a highlight of the Flatbush Avenue entrance is a special Early-Spring-Blooming Garden. Vivid masses of blossoms will first appear in February and early March, offering a harbinger of warmer months ahead and a welcome sign that the winter will soon be behind us. Highlights of this collection include hellebores, sweetbox, and camellias, as well as ephemerals like snowdrops and daffodils.
Q. Who designed the South Garden Project?
Two highly regarded New York–based firms designed elements of the South Garden Project. Renowned landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA)—lauded for their work on Brooklyn Bridge Park, Teardrop Park, and Hudson River Park, as well as other projects across the country—is leading the landscape redesign, including the Discovery Garden and Early Spring Garden. The Flatbush Avenue entry pavilion, archway renewal, and café elements were designed by NYC’s own Architecture Research Office (ARO), well known for its recent work on Long Island’s Weston Performing Arts Center, the Princeton School of Architecture addition, and a sporting pavilion at Beacon Long Dock Park. Both firms have worked closely with BBG staff on the project.
In July 2012, the Public Design Commission of the City of New York honored the plans for the Flatbush Avenue entry pavilion and Terrace Café with its Award for Excellence in Design, recognizing the innovative redesign of two important visitor landmarks at the Garden.
Q. What else is changing at BBG?
BBG is revitalizing areas all over the 52–acre garden in order to improve the visitor experience, augment horticultural collections, and model urban sustainability inside and outside the Garden gates. Completed projects include the new Herb Garden (2010), the creation of the Brooklyn Urban Gardener program (2010), the new Visitor Center (2012), and the Native Flora Garden expansion (2013). Now that Phase 1 of the South Garden Project is completed, BBG will begin work on the Water Garden and other aspects of the water recirculation and conservation project and on a new Woodland Garden.