Sneak Peek at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's New Visitor Center

Sneak Peek at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's New Visitor Center

March 28, 2012
Photo by: Claire Lui

Yesterday, I had a chance to have a sneak peek at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's new visitor center, which is slated to open to the public on May 16, 2012. The new visitor center, designed by Weiss/Manfredi, was built to create a more formal entry from the street into the garden, creating a place to welcome and orient tour groups, a larger gift store with room for plant sales throughout the year, and an event space. Designed to gently lead the visitor into the centerpiece of the garden, the cherry tree esplanade, the new visitor center has a 10,000 square-foot-living roof and several rain gardens. The soon-to-be heavily planted areas help blur the transition between the architecture and the landscape.

bbg new visitors center

Weiss/Manfredi, HM White Site Architects, and the BBG worked with living roof system provider Roofscapes worked to create three mixes of meadow grasses, summer-blooming perennials, and spring bulbs for the roof, with 45,000 total plants including prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), and snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis).

Though the visitor's center is not yet finished, I thought I would share some of my photos that I took of the building, as well as some eye candy of the early spring flowers that are already in bloom at the garden, thanks to the warm winter that we have been experiencing. 

bbg new visitor center 2

The visitor center covers 20,000 square feet. Marion Weiss, of Weiss/Manfredi, described this view above as one of her favorites, as the visitor has the choice to walk into the garden (to the right) or back out into the city (to the left).

bbg visitor center 3

A large ginko tree, seen directly in the center of the photo above, was moved to make way for the new visitor center, and the beds will be planted with new trees and plants to create orderly terraces behind the new visitor center.

bbg visitor's center interior

Other ginko trees that were too old to be saved were cut down and used for wood in the interior of the building, seen at left in the photo above. If you look at the glass in the building, you will notice that it has stripes—this was developed with the Audubon Society to help filter light and to deter birds from running into the glass.

Below is the garden's time-lapse video of the building being created:

BBG Living Roof Installation from Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Vimeo.

Plus some eye candy from around the garden:

camellia 2

The camellias were in bloom.

white bulb flowers

Summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye') bulbs were in full flower everywhere. 

yellow magnolia

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is famous for their magnolias, particularly their yellow magnolias, many of which were developed at the garden. These are just budding, but due to the warm weather, they are in bloom much earlier than usual. 

dark pink magnolias

A dark pink magnolia still had most of the blooms on the trees—you can see the fields of daffodils in the background. 

pink magnolia stellata
An uncommon pink Magnolia stellata was dropping its petals in the wind. All photos by Claire Lui.

Claire Lui is the online editor of