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Design Consultant: BKSK Architects LLP
Location: Queens
Client Agency: Cepartment of Cultural Affair

Overview: The new Administration Building and Visitor’s Center is a tangible demonstration of the Queens Botanical Garden’s dual mission of encouraging environmental stewardship and celebrating the neighborhood’s cultural diversity. The building is at once a gateway to the gardens, a defining edge for the nearby residential community, and an integration of natural garden and built form. The program encompasses culturally significant plant displays, new gardens showcasing native plant communities and water management, an auditorium, indoor and outdoor meeting areas and public amenities. The building houses new facilities for the horticulture and maintenance departments, and a new home for visitor services and administration.

Sustainable Features: Because of its unusually ambitious sustainability agenda, the design won NYC’s first Green Building Design Award in 2004 and it expects to earn the highest and rarely awarded LEED Platinum from the US Green Building Council. But the project wears its environmental effectiveness lightly, conveying its green values in an elegant and poetic manner, and drawing one’s attention to the earth, water, air, and light. A green meadow sweeps up from the ground to cover the partially buried auditorium, while a folded roof shelters the plaza and directs collected rain water to a man-made stream that is cleansed by the biological processes of the plants. The project’s most impressive achievements are in the areas of sustainable site design and water efficiency, both reflecting and demonstrating the core values of the botanical garden that it serves.

Located in Flushing Queens. Size: 16,000 gross square feet / 13,900 net square feet in a campus setting. Construction cost of $14,000,000. Building completion Spring 2007 (Design commenced 1999).

Client Agencies: Queens Botanical Garden, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; NYC Department of Design & Construction.

 LEED Info [PDF]      Project Team [PDF]

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Sustainable Site

100% of stormwater retained and cleansed on site
Landscape and building integrated - open space protected and restored
Grey water retained and cleansed on site
Urban Heat Island Effect reduced
Alternate transportation encouraged
Brownfield redeveloped
Light pollution reduced

Rainwater cleansed in cleansing biotope; grey water in a constructed wetland
Native, drought-resistant plants
Extensive green roof, light-colored where not planted
Parking permeable, varying with usage
Designated carpool parking and charging stations for electric vehicles
Bicycle racks and showers


Water Efficiency

110,000 gallons/year of potable water use avoided – a 64% reduction below the 1992 Energy Policy Act
68,796 gallons/year of waste water avoided – a 62% reduction
Gardens not irrigated with potable water
Educational water feature highlights rainwater and grey water cleansing

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
Composting toilets for staff



Energy reduction of 39% over ASHRAE 90.1-1999 compliant baseline
Annual energy savings of $6,573 (2005 rates)
Emissions reduction – 60 lbs NOx; 38 tons CO2
Peak Load reduction – 11 kWh
Payback – 16.5 years simple payback of energy conserving measures
Renewable energy – photovoltaic panel, 16 kW

Geothermal heat pumps
Daylighting for all occupied spaces, with daylight and occupancy controls
Light shelves for sun control
Operable windows
High-performance glass
Demand ventilation controlled by CO2 sensors
High-efficiency variable-air-volume system, fans and pump motors
Photovoltaic panels
Commissioning of all systems


Material Conservation

Diverted 90% (to date) of construction and demolition debris from landfill,
totaling 731 tons of mixed debris plus 35 tons of reused cobbles
Recycled content constitutes over 10% of materials
Local products account for over 10% of materials
Forest Stewardship Council certified wood used

Existing building demolished and reuse opportunities sought
Construction and demolition waste sorted at off-site facility
Major materials targeted for recycled content, including fly-ash in concrete,
steel, sheetrock


Healthy Interiors

Optimized fresh air quantities
Building systems and occupants protected from construction contaminants
Reduced exposure to toxins, volatile organic compounds, urea formaldehyde
Daylight to 78% of rooms, and views outside for 90%
Occupant-controlled lighting, heating and cooling

CO2 monitors  control fresh air
Air quality management during construction
Specifications for low-emitting paints,
carpets, adhesives, sealants, non-urea-
formaldehyde composite woods
Separate ventilation for interior service areas
Expansive glazing, operable windows, and occupant controls for thermal


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