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Queens Botanical Garden Goes from Green to Platinum

For Immediate Release
Contact Lethia Cooper, Marketing
Queens Botanical Garden
718-886-3800, ext. 216
Flushing, New York, June 19, 2008— The Queens Botanical Garden Visitor & Administration Center in Flushing, Queens, has officially received Platinum certification under the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) rating system, the highest national standard for sustainability.  As the first public building in New York City to achieve this level, the project is a model for civic structures throughout the city and an important asset in the development of New York City's PlaNYC 2030.

An exuberant contemporary building and an ingenious harvester of natural elements, the Visitor & Administration Center opened to the public last fall to much acclaim and excitement.  It was designed by BKSK Architects, a New York firm fast emerging as a leading voice in sustainable design. The building is a pilot project of the City’s Department of Design and Construction’s High Performance Building program.

“The Center is the centerpiece of an ambitious $22 million capital improvement program that has propelled the Garden into the forefront of sustainability in its field,” says Susan Lacerte, director, Queens Botanical Garden. “Today we are very proud and grateful to the many generous friends and supporters who made the building possible.”

The issue of sustainability was not the civic priority it is today when the Queens Botanical Garden embarked on this building project nearly a decade ago.  Yet the City stepped to the forefront to support the initiative and today green building design is a top priority for City Hall and all New Yorkers as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030.

The 16,000-square-foot Queens structure “is showing people that it can be done,” says John Krieble, director of Sustainable Design, NYC Department of Design and Construction. “It’s one thing to talk about it; it’s another thing to see it here in three dimensions, working.”

“The design of the building is specific to the Garden’s mission and place,” says BKSK principal Joan Krevlin, designer of the Center. “This particular building, occupying a patch of ground once described by F. Scott Fitzgerald as a “valley of ashes,” speaks to the ability of architecture to heal the landscape and support the Garden’s commitment to sustainability, the environment, and our shared future.”

The facility has three roofs, each of which functions in an integrated way to generate energy; collect, cleanse, and reuse water; and reduce waste. The canopy in the entrance court catches and redirects rainwater; the roof of the main building supports photovoltaic panels; and the green roof atop the auditorium reduces heating and cooling demands, insulates the interior from sounds overhead, and serves as a garden and public pathway for showcasing different types of plants.

Water is the element that unifies the design of the building and landscape. Visitors can see rainwater flowing off of the canopy and into a pool called a cleansing biotope, where impurities are filtered out naturally, by sand, gravel, and selected native wetland species such as Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) and Lizard's Tail (Saururus cernuus). Once cleansed, the rainwater is piped underground to emerge in the Entry Plaza fountain and then returns to the cleansing biotope via water channels to begin the cycle again. Visitors cross a series of bridges over the water channels that weave throughout the building and the site.

Funding for the Visitor and Administration Building was provided by the office of the Queens Borough President, New York City Office of the Mayor, New York City Council, The Institute of Museum and Library Services, New York State Senator Frank Padavan, Booth Ferris Foundation, Independence Community Foundation, New York State Assembly member Barry Grodenchik, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, KeySpan Corporation, Hudson River Foundation, NYC Environmental Fund, New York Power Authority, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, New York State’s Community Capital Assistance Program, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), among others.

In April, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) selected the Center as one of the top ten green projects nationwide for 2008, through its Committee on the Environment (COTE) Awards program.


The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a 501(c)(3) non profit comprised of leaders from every sector of the building industry working to promote buildings and communities that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work.  The USGBC and related logo is a trademark owned by the U.S. Green Building Council and is used by permission.


The Queens Botanical Garden grew from “Gardens on Parade,” a spectacular five-acre exhibition at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Today the institution is one of 34 institutions comprising the City’s Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) and the steward of 39 acres of City land, adjacent to the northeast tip of Flushing Meadow Park.

The Queens Botanical Garden is reached by the No. 7 train or Long Island Rail Road (Port Washington line) to Main Street/Flushing or the Q44 or Q20 buses to Elder Avenue/Main Street.  Drivers should take the Long Island Expressway to Exit 23, Main Street, or the Van Wyck Expressway to Exit 12A, College Point Boulevard.

For more information, the public may visit or call 718.886.3800.


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