Groundbreaking for Brooklyn Botanic Garden Overlook Project
Groundbreaking for the Robert W. Wilson Overlook at Brooklyn Botanic Garden took place on June 6. The opening will be in the summer of 2019. One of the Garden’s most significant undeveloped sites, the Overlook encompasses a 1.25-acre area with sweeping views over Cherry Esplanade and the Garden at large. Taking design cues from the adjacent Diane H. and Joseph S. Steinberg Visitor Center the new Robert W. Wilson Overlook will be reimagined, reconstructed, and replanted in its entirety to create an immersive landscape that amplifies one of BBG’s most extraordinary vistas.
As the Landscape Architect for the project, SiteWorks worked closely with Weiss/Manfredi Architects and Toby Wolf Landscape Architect to complete and coordinate the construction documentation expanding the Garden’s botanical collection and bringing functional reverence to an overgrown slope fronting one of its most notable spaces. The planting design by Toby Wolf including the crape myrtle species seeks to complement the design of a universally accessible pathway that provides connection and a continuous circuit between the Overlook, the Visitor’s Center, and the Cherry Esplanade.
The flowering crape-myrtle trees are an immersive four-season planting scheme of ornamental grasses and perennials. In seasonal counterpoint to the Garden’s famous spring cherry blossom display, the crape-myrtles offer a spectacular floral show of whites and pinks in late summer, vibrant foliage in the autumn, and intricately textured and patterned exfoliating cinnamon bark that extends their visual appeal into the winter. The grasses and perennials will combine to form a robust, resilient ecosystem that evolves over time, inviting a diversity of insect life and stabilizing the soil to prevent erosion.
Parametric walls designed by Weiss/Manfredi move sinuously across the landscape and were carefully studied – along with the topography with which they are intimately linked – with multiple iterations. SiteWorks challenged the initial budgetary constraints, ultimately convincing the team to pursue a system of precast concrete wall segments. This material change simultaneously streamlines the installation of the projects physical structures and lessens the severity of the proposed slopes facilitating a more robust and viable planting strategy.
Utilizing best practices, SiteWorks led the proposal for re-use of existing soils, amended to respond to the topography. The moisture regimes were carefully coordinated with the planting palette that was ultimately developed.