Conservation Design Forum
Queens Botanical Garden Visitor & Administration Center; Flushing, New York

Client: Queens Botanical Garden
Architect: BKSK Architects
Engineers: P.A. Collins; Weidlinger Associates
Contractors: AAR/CO Electric; Pinnacle Plumbing & Heating Corp.; Stonewall Contracting Corp.
Consultants: AWL Industries, Inc.; Bluestone + Associates; Dennis Gray Consulting; Fat Spaniel Technologies; Israel Berger & Associates; Katrin Scholz-Barth Consulting; Kugler Associates; Reginald Hough; Viridian Engineering & Environmental, LLC
Category: Design -Recreation 

In accordance with the dictum ‘where people, plants, and cultures meet,' the Queens Botanical Garden (QBG) offers a place of quiet respite and communion with nature in the heart of downtown Flushing, New York. In 2001, a visionary master plan was completed to guide the complete renovation and expansion of the QBG. The first phase to be implemented was the Visitor and Administration Center and associated gardens. The project, which received a LEED Platinum rating, has helped pave the way for high-performance, integrated buildings and sites in New York. The QBG's mission is about the celebration of cultural connections and demonstration of environmental stewardship. Through the artful deployment of green strategies, the gardens and the building are seamlessly woven together, making the Center a physical expression of that mission.

The design's creative force is the visible expression of water-a resource not to be squandered. Visitors and staff are immersed in a setting where stone, concrete, and steel are artfully crafted to display water in a range of textures and characteristics. The water elements make use of harvested rainwater, as water is cooled and filtered with bioswales that mimic the function of natural ecosystems in lush, colorfully planted gardens with open water surfaces.
Graywater from the Center's sinks, dishwashers, and showers is piped to a constructed wetland, then returned to the building for use in toilet flushing.

A priority for the landscape plan was to use existing vegetation where appropriate and restore a healthy habitat. This objective was accomplished through the preservation of irreplaceable existing trees and the establishment of a landscape filled with herbaceous plant material native to New York or closely related cultivars.

The QBG has become a place where one can discover the critical links between global conservation, local sustainability, and the importance of traditional cultural practices as they relate to natural resources. In a country where water is becoming increasingly scarce due to its misuse and unsustainable land use practices, the QBG's water landscapes intentionally exhibit a compelling new paradigm and way to think about water, sustainability, and beauty.