Photos: Aislinn Weidele/Ennead Architects

“We liked this entry because it exhibited a very strong, structural statement that will basically improve over time.”

Dave Craddock


Parking Structures: 0-999 Cars

New York Botanical Gardens

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To preserve valuable landscape at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, designers located the new all–precast concrete parking structure and intermodal facility just outside the facility’s walls, extending its presence into the community. To visually connect the garden and this exterior structure, the designers combined geometric precast concrete shapes with channel glass featuring a metal-trellis infill to create a vertical garden on all four sides.

“We liked this entry because it exhibited a very strong structural statement that will basically improve over time,” says Dave Craddock, a member of the buildings awards jury. “We were very impressed that the precast provided a framework that the environment was encouraged to basically infill.”

A series of monumental forked elements, symbolic of a branch, envelops the building, forming an overall enclosure and vertical trellised landscape. Interstices between the forked elements are covered with wire trellis planted with a variety of flowering vines. These design elements are accented by ribbed precast concrete panels that form the base of the building, adding visual interest.

The structure features 1159 precast concrete components, including double tees, columns, spandrels, lite walls, shear walls, stair walls, beams, cladding panels, stair units, and planter curbs. Due to the unusual shape of the site, which features only one 90-degree corner along the perimeter, standard forms could be used only in a few locations.

Many of the precast concrete pieces had to be modified at their ends to adjust to the irregular geometries and to produce an efficient layout that accommodated 825 parking spaces. A light well was provided at the center, bringing daylight into the center of the building.

Several casting challenges arose in achieving the desired aesthetic goals. To handle the three-dimensional forked components, the precaster designed hinged steel forms that allowed adjustments to be made to provide the appropriate mirrored shape for each leg. In addition, when the original wooden form used to cast the ribbed walls proved inefficient, a recycled plastic/wood composite material was used.

“This parking structure had a nice balance of the structural aspect of precast concrete with a nice, delicate application that allowed the precast to become ornamental,” says Debra Kunce, a member of the buildings awards jury. “This is a new way to look at precast on parking structures.”

Location: Bronx, N.Y.
Owner: The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, N.Y.
Architect: Ennead Architects, New York, N.Y.,
Architect of record and engineer: Desman Associates, New York, N.Y.
Construction manager: E.W. Howell, New York, N.Y.
Precaster: Unistress Corp, Pittsfield, Mass.,
Precast concrete specialty engineer: Stango Consulting Engineers, Chesterton, Md.
PCI-certified erector: Jemco Erectors, Shamong, N.J.
Project size: 300,000 ft2 (28,000 m2)
Project cost: $35 million