FROM BROOKLYN BOTANIC GARDEN (MAY 22, 2018):
Brooklyn, NY—Brooklyn Botanic Garden today announced plans for the Robert W. Wilson Overlook, designed by the innovative, multidisciplinary architecture firm Weiss/Manfredi and opening in summer 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—another project designed by Weiss/Manfredi and winner of 20 design awards, including the American Institute of Architects 2013 Honor Award for Architecture—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.
The existing Overlook site offers dramatic views of the Garden but provides inadequate access between its upper pathway and Cherry Esplanade. Weiss/Manfredi’s design for the Overlook introduces an elegant switchback pathway with sculptural retaining walls that enhances the Garden’s circulation in one of the most highly visited areas of the Garden by connecting the top and bottom of the Overlook hillside. This new, accessible route encourages visitor engagement with BBG’s world-class collections through the creation of communal gathering spaces and new vantage points. The Overlook’s striking visual planes and ever-evolving landscape will add to the cinematic experience of the Garden.
The Overlook landscape will be defined by flowering crape-myrtle trees, which flourish beautifully at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and 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.
The Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust’s $10 million total commitment to BBG’s Campaign for the Next Century is helping to fund the restoration and redesign of the Overlook site. Says Richard Schneidman, trustee of the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust: “Bob loved the beauty of Brooklyn Botanic Garden and its renowned horticultural collections. He was a visionary who was deeply committed to both innovative design and the natural environment. The Robert W. Wilson Overlook, which will provide one of the most stunning vistas in New York City, is a wonderful way of honoring his legacy at BBG and beyond. We are delighted that the gift from the Trust will create extraordinary new opportunities for visitors to experience the natural world and be inspired by the breathtaking sights of the Garden in all seasons.”
Scot Medbury, president of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, says, “The Robert W. Wilson Overlook will transform a singular vista into a spectacular, accessible landscape that visitors can move through—one that allows them to enjoy extraordinary plantings up close while taking in one of BBG’s most expansive views. Weiss/Manfredi’s design seamlessly integrates the Overlook into the rest of the Garden as it knits architectural elements of the Steinberg Visitor Center to major horticultural plantings east and west. Whether during BBG’s major public festivals on Cherry Esplanade or during quieter times of the year when visitors come to enjoy the beauty of the Garden, the Overlook will provide BBG’s growing audience with the chance to view the Garden from a new and unique vantage.”
“We are thrilled to continue our work with Brooklyn Botanic Garden,” said Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, of Weiss/Manfredi. “Our design for the Robert Wilson Overlook is conceived as an ascending crape-myrtle garden shaped by spaces for communal gathering that overlook the iconic Cherry Esplanade. The curvilinear path, cast stone walls, and integrated benches and lighting choreograph a collection of framed views that reveal the magic of the garden.”