By Bree Sposato
May 15, 2012

Opening May 16th, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s new entrance along Washington Avenue is no garden-variety visitors center. Nestled into a hillside in the northeast corner, the 20,000-square-foot building aims to be a seamless extension of the 52-acre landscape, which could have amounted to an empty promise in the hands of a lesser firm. But the New York–based husband-wife team of Weiss/Manfredi delivers.

Curved glass-and-white walls, sensitivity to the surrounding flora (the structure yields to two cherry trees), and the 10,000-square-foot green roof—planted with 40,000 grasses and wildflowers, including purple prairie clover, snowdrop, and foxglove—are responsible for its success. All involved in the project are also hoping for LEED Gold certification, thanks to other sustainable features such as a geoexchange system that heats and cools the interior, fritted glass (visible to birds), and rain gardens that filter runoff.

Never does your path feel forced. The building’s curve first brings you into its room of interactive exhibits (where coffee is served in ceramic mugs), then into its leaf-shaped event space clad in ginkgo wood, out onto its sunny terrace, up a staircase to a terraced garden, and, finally, into the garden itself. And that’s Weiss’ favorite moment—along the garden-facing side of the building, where the path subtly splits in two, taking visitors either to the left (back to the gifts shop and street) or to the right (into the garden). Though it’s hard to imagine anyone leaving so soon. The Center affords stunning views of the Japanese Garden and the Cherry Esplanade, where many locals and travelers are known to pass entire afternoons.

$10 adult admission.

Bree Sposato is a Brooklyn-based writer and a regular contributor to Travel + Leisure.