The Leon Levy Visitor Center sits at the New York Botanical Garden’s Conservatory Gate, creating a new front door to this venerable “museum of plants.” The project consists of four pavilions that border a promenade. The first pavilion contains a ticketing center and an information desk where animated projections convey news, the day’s events, and future activities. This pavilion also features a 4,500-square-foot café with seating for 200 people. The other three pavilions, to the east, comprise respectively a 7,500-square-foot book and plant store and two restroom structures.
Nearly invisible from outside the Garden’s grounds, the building is a portal that provides a gradual transition between two very different environments. Its structures, plaza, promenade, and pool were all designed to form an elegant transition from the city’s vibrant urban surroundings to the Garden’s pastoral environment.
A fusion of architecture and nature, the center complements the Garden’s rock outcroppings, historic specimen trees, and green rolling hills. The buildings’ curved roofs, some with skylights, soar above the plaza. The low building profile, undulating roofs and use of natural and locally available materials allow the building to both blend into its surroundings and be a fitting entrance gateway.
H3 coordinated all necessary building documentation to obtain approval from local code and zoning officials and secure building permits. We also reviewed the project with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Governor of New York State, which resulted in additional funding.