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Leon Levy Visitor Center New York Botanical Garden
Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates

July 02, 2003 /

New York, USA

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The New York Botanical Garden, 250 acres of unmatched natural beauty in the heart of the New York City metropolitan region, opened its new Leon Levy Visitor Center to the public on may 1, 2004.

Designed to conform to the natural contours of the site and the location of the mature trees, the Visitor Center frames views that make the Garden's topography and its specimen trees the focal point of the visitor's experience.

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The Center represents a fusion of architecture and landscape that uses stone, steel, and glass to create a new, simply stated environment.

/ Hugh Hardy

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Located at the main Conservatory Gate entrance the three-and-a-half-acre Center is comprised of four separate structures that form an elegant and functional transition from the urban surroundings of the City to the pastoral Garden.

Beyond the open-air entrance pavilion a "garden room" joins architecture and landscape to form an integrated whole. The columns are enclosed by trellises that, when grown over, will look as though vines are supporting the roof.

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The new Visitor Center includes a cafe, a bookstore and plant shop, a visitor orientation area, and restrooms. The buildings, constructed of dark Hamilton New York State bluestone, wood, steel, and glass, combine modern design with natural materials and forms.

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The stone relate to the bedrock in the Garden, the glass walls to the Conservatory, whose roof is visible, the wood to the wood outside and, with the stone, provides earth tones throughout the complex.

Undulating sweeps of "gull-winged" wood roofs and wood rafters, low rustic stone walls, and expansive glass walls unite to create an elegant, spacious, and airy complex that blends organically into the landscape.

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At the end of a twenty-four-foot-wide bluestone promenade a small reflecting pool marks the endpoint of the Visitor Center.

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Beyer Blinder Belle's restoration of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the nation's largest Victorian glasshouse, was completed in 1997.

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The Garden Café, by Cooper, Robertson & Partners, opened in 2001, the International Plant Science Center, designed by Polshek Partnership Architects, comprising the new William and Lynda Steere Herbarium and the restored LuEsther T. Mertz Library, opened in 2002.

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Subsequent phases of the master plan include the Nolen Glasshouses for Living Collections, designed by Mitchell/Giurgola Architects, scheduled to open in spring 2005, and the Pfizer Plant Research Laboratory, designed by Polshek Partnership Architects, scheduled to open in 2007.

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Model photo courtesy New York Botanical Garden

The Nolen Glasshouses for Living Collections, the largest behind-the-scenes glasshouses for plants at any botanical garden in the United States, will use the latest in environmental controls and efficient watering devices.

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Model photo courtesy New York Botanical Garden

The Pfizer Plant Research Laboratory will be a 23,000 square feet facility which will provide much needed space for the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullmann program for Molecular Systematics Studies and Plant Genomics Consortium.

Facts about Leon Levy Visitor Center New York Botanical Garden

Total area:

27,500 ft2

Architects:

Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, LLP

Partner-in-Charge:
Hugh Hardy

Project Manager:

Stewart Jones

Project Designer:
Gabriel Hernandez

Architects:
Philip Henshaw, Ryan Hallowell

Construction architect:
Jonathan Strauss

Interior designer:
Nijapa Heamaputi

Fountain design:
Abel Bainnson Butz, LLP

Landscape architect:
Jackson Wandres, The RBA Group The Leon Levy Visitor Center is part of the Master Plan of improvements to the 112-year old Garden.

Client:

New York Botanical Garden

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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