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Design Consultant: Rafael Viñoly Architects PC
Location: Brooklyn
Client Agency
Department of Cultural Affairs

Overview: The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, established 1899 in Brower Park, will have a bright and colorful new look in 2007, when a major addition doubles its space to 110,000 square feet. While the original building was meant to have minimal impact on the street, with much of the building below grade and concealed by planted earth berms, the new museum is designed to be visible and welcoming to the neighborhood. The addition, with its bright yellow porcelain facade, wraps around the current building, bringing animation and natural light into the center. Directed at urban children who may have limited access to nature, BCM will thematically incorporate environmental awareness as part of its core exhibits, extending its programs onto a rehabilitated roof deck, new courtyard and the adjacent public Brower Park. Children will be able to learn about this environmentally friendly building, as they participate in solar power experiments and hands-on geothermal exhibits.

Sustainable Features: The Museum will tap into geothermal wells for its heating and cooling needs. Water from a site aquifer that remains at a constant temperature throughout the year is used as a more efficient heat source and cooling medium to diminish the building’s energy requirements. Condenser water for the heat pumps, air-handling units and a reversible chiller will be provided by two 345 foot-deep supply wells, and the used condenser water will be discharged into two injection wells on the south of the site. This sustainable system will avoid the use of cooling towers, eliminating their on-site noise and emissions. Photovoltaic panels integrated into the building design will convert solar energy directly into electrical power. It is estimated that solar energy captured through PV panels on the museum’s roof and exterior walls will provide about 1.5% of the museum’s electricity. The integration of the photovoltaic panels will also be an educational highlight within the Museum’s program. Green materials are also featured – recycled materials, rapidly renewable material such as bamboo flooring, and materials that do not emit harmful chemicals.

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Sustainable Site

Community space provided
Urban Heat Island Effect mitigated
Open space protected
Alternate transportation encouraged
Nighttime light pollution reduced
Air pollution reduced during construction

Museum integrated into Brower Park
Roof terrace and landscaped areas used for museum programs
Adjacent parkland protected
Light-colored, high-reflectance, low-emissivity roofing
Light-colored paving used
Urban setting near public transportation
Bicycle racks and showers
Ultra-low sulfur fuel and clean technology used in construction vehicles


Water Efficiency

Potable water use reduced in building 20% over 1992 Energy Policy Act
Landscape uses no potable water

Low-flow fixtures, flow restrictors
Waterless urinals
Grey water system reuses cleansed sink, shower and dishwashing water for
Native drought-resistant plant requiring no irrigation



Energy use reduced over 20% over a baseline ASHRAE 90.1-1999
Emissions reduced
Peak energy load reduced
Photovoltaics offset energy cost 1.5%
Ozone depletion reduced
System-operations integrated

Geothermal heat pumps, two supply/two discharge wells at 345 feet
Daylighting and high-performance lighting, with daylight dimming and
occupancy controls
Envelope improved with insulation and high-performance glass
Demand-based ventilation controlled by CO2 sensors
Building management system with digital monitoring controls
Variable-frequency drives, heat exchangers, maximum zone control
Photovoltaic panels
Expanded commissioning of systems


Material Conservation

Existing building retained (99%)
Construction and demolition waste - 75% to be diverted from landfill
Recycled materials constitute over 25% of materials
Local products account for over 20% of materials
Rapidly renewable products used
Forest Stewardship Council wood products required, minimum of 50%

Existing museum renovated and integrated with new
Construction and demolition waste to be sorted at off-site facility
Major materials targeted for recycled content, including fly-ash in concrete,
steel, gypsum board, flooring, bathroom tile and toilet partitions
Rapidly renewable materials include bamboo flooring


Healthy Interiors

Optimized fresh air quantities
Protection of building systems and occupants from construction contamination
Reduced exposure to toxins, volatile organic compounds, urea formaldehyde
Daylight maximized to all public areas
Acoustics improved

CO2 monitors control fresh air
Air quality management during construction; pre-occupancy flush-out planned
Low-emitting paints, carpets, adhesives, sealants, non-urea-formaldehyde
composite woods
Separate ventilation for interior service areas
Geothermal system eliminates noise-producing equipment from roof


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