Green roofs are great, aren’t they? They serve to in one fell swoop, alleviate concerns about the green-ness of a building. I mean just throw one of those suckers on the top and shoot for LEED. Or at least that’s one possibility. Every new thing in architecture has probably at one time or another, near its inception been something that everyone just throws on for the sake of having it. Modernism was that way. Mini Mies’ everywhere.

 

Courtesy of Weiss/Manfredi

But like every idea or thing in architecture that is actually useful, green roofs are coming into their own. They are becoming worthwhile things not just to ‘lick-and-stick’ on, but to design buildings around. The new Visitor Center for the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (BBG), designed by Weiss/Manfredi,  is such a building. A leaf-shaped roof is host to over 40,000 plants- grasses, spring bulbs and perennial wildflowers. This roof is ever-changing, providing the building with a natural form of versatility. There is a pleated copper roof (little risky in Brooklyn, don’t you think?) on the Washington Avenue side of the Center which will patina to green in years to come.

 Courtesy of Weiss/Manfredi

The building is shooting for LEED gold certification and employs several ‘green’ technologies. A geothermal exchange helps to heat and cool the interior. Thermal economy is augmented by the building’s construction. The north side of the Center is built into a preexisting berm, with clearstory windows making use of any northern light and fritted glass glazing lines the south side to provide large quantities of natural air and light. The green roof and a series of rain gardens collect rain water to improve storm-water management.

 

Courtesy of Weiss/Manfredi

The architects state,

 We envisioned the Visitor Center as a living interface that creates an invitation from the city into the Garden—a demonstration of the compelling reciprocity between architecture and landscape. Just as the Garden inspires wandering, we designed the center so that it is never seen in its entirety but is experienced cinematically as an unfolding place of discovery.

Courtesy of Weiss/Manfredi

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