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Queens Botanical Garden Visitor & Administration Center

Occupancy

September 2007

Location

43-50 Main Street, Flushing, NY

Client

Queens Botanical Garden
"BKSK Architects used wit and seduction to advocate green architecture, rather than just demonstrate it. It will be a must-see among aficionados of green buildings. But by any definition, it is a terrific gift to the Queens community and all of New York City."
Scott Stefan, Queens Botanical Garden

The Queens Botanical Garden is a nexus of botanical and cultural exploration for the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in the United States, Queens County. The new Visitor & Administration Center is a built extension of the Garden’s mission: to demonstrate environmental stewardship while celebrating the cultural connections between people and plants. To that end, the Visitors’ Center is LEED® Platinum certified, a first for a public building in New York City. From the inception of the project, principles of sustainability led the design process. Water, a natural element significant to all cultures, is re-introduced throughout the site, unifying building and landscape.

The Center is composed of three interconnected spaces: a forecourt and dramatic roof canopy, a central reception and administration building clad in wood and glass, and an auditorium space tucked into the landscape itself, sheltered by a sloping green roof. Additional sustainable elements include solar panels, a geothermal system, graywater and stormwater management systems and extensive use of recycled and renewable materials.

Completed in 2011, the 117-vehicle “parking garden” is composed of a variety of paving materials including permeable pavers to allow infiltration of water and parking bays interrupted by planted bioswales that manage stormwater. Nearby is a new Horticulture & Maintenance building, fabricated of pre-manufactured corrugated metal siding, cedar siding and corrugated translucent panels that maximize daylight.

Awards
AIA COTE Top Ten Green Projects, 2008
AIA NY State “Best in New York State” Award and Design Award Honor, Institutional category, 2008
AIA NY Building Type Awards, Honor Award for Sustainable Design, 2008
The Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award, 2008
US EPA Environmental Quality Award, 2008
New York City Green Design Competition: 2004 Winner for Excellence in Green Design
2007 Queens Chamber of Commerce Building Award
Western Red Cedar Architectural Design Honor Award, 2009
Built by Women New York City Winning Site, 2014

Publications
“Currents in sustainability in the USA: New York City,” Architecture+Urbanism: May 2010 (print only)
“Case study: Queens Botanical Garden,” GreenSource: April 2008
“A garden blooms in Queens,” Metropolis, 2/1/2008
“AIA/COTE Top 10 Projects of 2007,” Architect, 6/1/2008
“Measuring Green,” The Architect’s Newspaper, November 14, 2007
“Garden building is green from roots to roof,” Daily News, September 5, 2007
“City’s ‘greenest’ building opens in Queens,” The New York Times, September 27, 2007
“A botanical garden grows in Queens,” Newsday, Sept 28, 2007
“Garden of Eden,” Time Out New York: 7/5/2007
“Seeing green,” The New York Sun: 10/2/2007
“New York’s policies catch up to sustainability,” The Architect’s Newspaper, 11/17/2006
“Working with nature,” Ins and Outs: June 2007
“Distinctive & demonstrative,” Eco-Structure: March 2009 (print only)
“Maximizing the roof,” Azure: March 2009 (print only)
“A Queen’s garden gives another meaning to ‘green’,” The New York Times: 1/1/2004

Collaborators
NYC Department of Design & Construction – construction administration; Stonewall Construction – general contractor; Weidlinger Associates – structural & civil; P.A. Collins – MEP; Viridian Energy & Environmental – high performance energy design consultant; Kugler Ning – lighting design; Atelier Dreiseitl – landscape architect; Conservation Design Forum – landscape consultant; Denis Gray Horticulture – green roof specialist

Photos by Jeff Goldberg/ESTO