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Brooklyn Botanic Garden opens new visitor center

By Albert Vecerka, courtesy Brooklyn Botanic Garden

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The Brooklyn Botanic Garden opened its new visitor center in mid-May, a key component of the most significant renewal effort at the garden since its founding more than a century ago.

The 20,000-square-foot visitor center, which replaces a modest gate on Washington Avenue, has interpretive exhibits and a room for orienting tour groups; a leaf-shaped event space; an expanded store offering garden-related products and plants; and other visitor amenities.

Designed as a seamless extension of the 52-acre garden’s landscape, the glass building is embedded in an existing hillside at the garden’s northeast corner. Composed of two linked forms that seem to appear, disappear and change shape as the visitor moves through and around them, the curved glass walls offer veiled views into the garden.

The visitor center incorporates numerous environmentally sustainable features, most notably a 10,000-square-foot living roof with more than 40,000 plants, that are aimed toward earning LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) gold certification.

Nearly 60,000 plants have been installed around the building, including cherry, magnolia, and tupelo trees; viburnums; native roses; and three rain gardens. In combination with the green roof, the installation is designed to seamlessly weave the visitor center into the green tapestry of the garden.

The garden is in the midst of creating a suite of new and enhanced gardens, facilities and programs, among them a new herb garden, a woodland garden and an expanded native flora garden.