A few weeks ago, I had the unique opportunity to tour the Queens Botanical Garden’s new Visitor & Administration Center, which hopes to earn New York City’s first LEED Platinum rating from USGBC. (It’s currently on track for 53 of the 69 possible LEED points; 52 are required for a Platinum rating). I’d written about the project earlier this year, but it was an incredible experience to join members of the project team, including BKSK principal Joan Krevlin, who designed the Center, Susan Lacerte, the Executive Director of the Botanical Garden, as well as Jennifer Ward Souter, Director of Capital Projects and the Garden’s Assistant Director, as we walked through the building, which is still under construction. I took pictures at every opportunity, which I’ve organized into a set on Flickr with comments and descriptions where appropriate.
Green features at the Center obviously abound (and I describe many in the Flickr set), but for me the most powerful- and apparent- design element was how BKSK so gracefully structured the building around water. Its canopy directs rainwater runoff into a collecting pool, which flows through a channel between the building façade and its auditorium (see photos in the Flickr set) and is cleansed in a biotope pool, which feeds the water into a fountain near the Garden entrance. The water then proceeds to flow back through the channel to repeat the process. Moreover, wastewater from the Center is cleansed in an adjacent wetland and then pumped back into the Center to flush its toilets; the Center should achieve a 30 percent reduction in water consumption. The 15,830 square foot center also boasts an 8,000 square foot green roof, photovoltaic panels, 85 percent post-consumer recycled insulation, and a geothermal heating and cooling system. Twenty percent of the materials used to construct the Center were sourced within 500 miles of Flushing; the building opens to the public on Friday, September 28.
Joan Krevlin noted that BKSK saw the Center “as a built expression of the Queens Botanical Garden’s mission. While providing an iconic and welcoming gathering place for the community and a tool for interactive education, the building echoes and sustains the surrounding landscape.” It’s significant that an increasing number of architecturally significant- and in many instances potentially iconic- structures are demonstrating that sustainability can not only be integrated seamlessly into the building, but indeed become fundamental to the project team’s overall mission in executing the design.
Thanks to Anne Edgar and Anne Edgar Associates for organizing the tour and extending an invitation to gbNYC.
- Going Green in the Borough of Queens (gbNYC)
- Queens Botanical Garden (Flickr-gbNYC)
- Queens Botanical Garden