Tuesday, March 27 was a glorious—though brisk—day for a hard-hat tour of Weiss/Manfredi's new visitor center at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The building skirts the east periphery of the garden, transforming what Michael Manfredi calls the “subway style, meat-grinder” previous entry into a formal arrival point, and transitioning visitors from the urban streetscape to the idyllic landscape beyond. The low, swooping, 20,000-square-foot center, which will open to the public on May 16, will house a shop, interpretive exhibits, and a double-height event space. The architects tucked the building (which is composed of two linked volumes) into an existing hillside behind the Brooklyn Museum of Art, taking advantage of the hill's thermal mass as well as de-emphasizing the building's overall size. Ample glazing creates constant views in, out, and through the building, while an undulating green roof gives the center a topographical quality of its own. Twenty-eight geothermal wells, the 10,000-square-foot green roof, water gardens, and other sustainable features will, the team hopes, help earn the building LEED Gold certification.
Marion Weiss, BBG president Scot Medbury, and Michael Manfredi discuss the building.