Brooklyn Botanic Garden Water Conservation ProjectChildren’s Discovery Garden

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Since 2010, MVVA has worked with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on a range of projects with aesthetic, functional, and environmental objectives. The new designs sought to reduce the garden’s use of fresh water and reestablish its southern entrance to accommodate an increasing number of visitors. The projects include the Early Spring Garden at Flatbush Avenue, which opened alongside a dramatically redesigned Children’s Discovery Garden; the unique Woodland Garden; and the implementation of an ambitious and innovative Water Conservation Project that greatly reduces stormwater runoff and has made the Brooklyn Botanic Garden a model for sustainability in a highly urban context.

MVVA more than doubled—from 15 to 36 acres—the size of the watershed for a brook that runs through the garden, turning it into an important landscape feature across the site.

The small brook running through the site has been reimagined as Belle’s Brook, which now feeds the Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden. The Water Garden acts as a stormwater collection basin whose levels automatically lower or rise in accordance with anticipated rainfall. Both the brook and the water garden are visually and ecologically rich landscapes, with more than 20,000 new perennials, grasses, trees and shrubs.

Water Conservation Project

The Water Conservation Project was developed to reduce the garden’s reliance on freshwater and to ease Brooklyn’s overburdened storm drainage system. The new design utilizes advanced filtration and recirculation systems to redistribute rainwater throughout the 52-acre garden, saving 21 million gallons of freshwater annually.

Pre (top) and Post (bottom) Construction Watersheds

Before and After Stormwater Discharge Diagram: The plan reduces stormwater discharge to the city sewer by 20 million gallons per year.

Additionally, the project uses a smart monitoring system to cut its annual wet-weather contribution to combined sewer overflow by 70 percent. This automated, cloud-based system releases water into the sewer ahead of major storms, ensuring that water is not released during the storm itself.

The pond lowers prior to a storm

The pond fills with runoff during a storm, eliminating discharge to the city sewer

Existing stream (above), and the expanded Terminal Pond.

MVVA’s interventions integrate design and engineering to improve the visitor experience and the Garden’s sustainability.

Children’s Discovery Garden

The relocated Children's Discovery Garden is nearly four times its previous size. A network of kid-sized trails connects microcosms of natural plant communities, including marsh, meadow, and woodland ecosystems. Plantings with a variety of scales and characteristics make the space an active learning environment for the more than 150,000 children who visit the garden each year.