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Queens Botanical Garden Visitor & Administration Center, New York, United States

Wednesday 07 Jul 2010

Amongst the flowers

Photos: Jeff Goldberg 
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BKSK Architects' new admin facility for America's first sustainably designed public garden 

The Queens Botanical Garden Visitor & Administration Center is an ambitious new building for this New York City institution. Looking to the future, the Garden has propelled itself into its field’s front rank as the first botanical garden in the country devoted to sustainable environmental stewardship.

The project team sought to integrate an inspiring contemporary building into the experience of varied landscapes, heightening a visitor’s perception of the natural environment and conveying key elements of successful sustainability. Designed as an experiential teaching tool that showcases water management, landscape integration, and energy conservation / generation, it is the first public building in New York City to receive a LEED® Platinum certification.

The 16,000 sq ft Center, with an additional 4,500 sq ft of covered event plaza, is composed of three interconnected elements: a forecourt and roof canopy; a wood-clad linear gallery and administration building; and an auditorium space tucked into the landscape, sheltered by a green roof. These indoor and outdoor spaces play a role in the neighbourhood’s, indeed the City’s, use of the Garden as an expansive community facility where the rich tapestry of immigrant cultures in Queens is visible. The building literally offers common ground, and the explicit environmental agenda melds with social activity in a blend of architecture, landscape forms and public space.

From the main entrance, it is encountered as a landform (sloping green roof) that offers the visitor an orientating vantage point. The building’s forecourt is a habitable grove of architectonic trees (columns) that form a canopy. Entering the building involves the bridging of a stream, one of the integral water channels, biotopes and bioswales that mimic the function of a natural ecosystem, collecting and cleansing all rainwater captured on site for re-use. Such nature-inspired architectural strategies resonate in the building’s garden setting, and as part of its educational mission.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
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BKSK Architects

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