(BROOKLYN, NY) ― Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) is pleased to announce that its Visitor Center, designed by New York–based multidisciplinary design practice WEISS/MANFREDI, has won the 2014 American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Institute Honor Award for Architecture. The Institute Honor Awards recognize 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. BBG’s Visitor Center opened in May 2012 and has also recently earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The 20,000-square-foot Visitor Center was designed as a key part of BBG’s major renewal efforts, launched on the occasion of the Garden’s centennial. It 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. The leaf-shaped living roof hosts over 40,000 plants—grasses, spring bulbs, and perennial wildflowers—adding a new experimental landscape to the Garden’s collection.
The curved glass walls of the Visitor Center offer veiled views into the Garden, their fritted glass filtering light and deterring bird strikes. In contrast to the southern face of the building, the north side is built into a preexisting berm, which increases thermal efficiency. Its clerestory glazing—along with the fritted glass on the south walls—minimizes heat gain and maximizes natural illumination. A geoexchange system heats and cools the interior spaces, and a series of rain gardens collect and filter runoff to improve storm-water management.
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 University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Nanotechnology, 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.