Brooklyn Botanic Garden Educational Center

This studio will explore architecture\’s role in support of a public institution. An institution\’s goals and ideals are manifest in a program that underlies how a building is used and experienced. At a larger scale, the relationships between architecture and site reinforce the mission of an institution. Therefore, program, site and other conditions will be investigated and analyzed as the basis for the design of the project. The goal is to create architecture that engages both institution and city.ProgramThe Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a 52 acre tract at the intersection of several neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Construction of the Garden began in 1910 and was substantially completed thirty years later. Horticulture, Education and Science are the three departments that form the core of the Botanic Garden\’s mission. Its location has a fostered a particular emphasis on responding to the diverse, multicultural community of the surrounding neighborhoods and of New York City. As it approaches its one hundredth anniversary, the Garden continues to evolve as a part of the city. The Education Center, a literal and metaphorical gate to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, will promote knowledge about ecology and the environment through direct, hands-on learning. This facility will be a resource that reinforces the earth science curriculum for middle and high school students. During the academic year, classes will come to the center to learn about the environment, especially the Native Flora of New York City. (Nearby is the existing Native Flora Garden that will be part of a proposed Natural Garden Zone.) After school programs, teacher training and community uses will also be accommodated. In the summer, the Educational Center will be part of an environment-themed camp for 11-13 year olds. The architectural implications underlying the program, including ecology and education, will also be questioned and explored.SiteThe site for the Education Center is the parking lot and berm located on the north edge of the Botanic Garden, directly south of the Brooklyn Museum. Each student will select a specific location for the project within this area. This is a spatially complex place with a significant level change between the outside and inside the Garden. Also, the site is experienced from multiple vantage points due to changes in grade and the permeability of the site boundaries. Just as the program of the Educational Center responds to the urban implications of the environment, the relationship between architecture and landscape will be intertwined in the design of the project. ProcessThe process of design will emphasize physical models to critically develop, interpret and present ideas. Models will be both representational and conceptual. In response to the three-dimensional complexity of the site, models will help clarify visual and physical relationships. Also, models will be constructed as experiments in material, construction, and detail.ReferencesA copy of the BBG Master Plan and a topographic site plan will be made available to the studio for reference. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Web site may also be consulted for additional information:, including a description of the current educational programs.