Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Visitor Center has won the 2014 American Institute of Architects’ Institute Honor Award for architecture.
The Weiss/Manfredi-designed 20,000-square-foot center, a blend of architecture and landscape design, was a key component of BBG’s major renewal efforts launched in concurrence with the Garden’s centennial.
“We knew, even in the early design stages with Weiss/Manfredi, that this project would be a transformative architectural presence for the Garden and the surrounding neighborhood,” said Scot Medbury, president of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, in a prepared statement. “We are proud to now have the Visitor Center recognized with such an important distinction.”
The center was conceived as a threshold between the city and the BBG, featuring glass that offers veiled views into the BBG and a living roof that seamlessly extends out from the Garden’s 52-acre landscape. The leaf-shaped living roof hosts over 40,000 plants, grasses, spring bulbs, and perennial wildflowers, according to BBG.
The building, which recently earned LEED Gold certification, uses special materials to minimizes heat gain and maximize natural light, with a geoexchange system that heats and cools the interior spaces and a series of rain gardens that collect and filter runoff to improve storm-water management.
“We envisioned the visitor center as a living interface that creates an invitation from the city into the garden — a demonstration of the compelling reciprocity between architecture and landscape,” Weiss/Manfredi partners Michael Manfredi and Marion Weiss said in a joint statement. “Just as the garden inspires wandering, we designed the center so that it is never seen in its entirety but is experienced cinematically as an unfolding place of discovery.”