Brooklyn Children’s Museum added a new $32.2 million facility with a bold design youngsters find inviting. Its glittering envelope of yellow ceramic tiles creates a striking attraction in the ethnically diverse residential neighborhood of Crown Heights. The building achieved LEED-Silver certification, making it the first green museum in the city.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum-Brooklyn, N.Y.

Rafael Violy Architects of New York designed the 55,000-sq-ft addition for the New York City Department of Design and Construction, and Skanska USA Building of New York completed the project in November 2008.

The L-shaped, two-story expansion adjoins the existing, belowground museum. More than 8 million yellow ceramic tiles cover not only the sides but also the roof. The roofline dips down at the corners so that the roof tiles can be seen from street level. This second-story mass cantilevers out over the ground floor and defines the main entrance.

Floor-to-ceiling glazing at street level brings natural light into the ground floor and reveals to passersby the activities inside the building. The deep overhang furnished by the second-story volume minimizes direct sunlight exposure on the glass, thus minimizing heat gain and saving on energy costs. High-performance glass also cuts down on solar gain and photovoltaic panels convert solar energy into electrical power. Photoelectric sensors regulate the amount of artificial illumination in public spaces according to the amount of natural light available at any given time.

A geothermal system functions as a heat-sink for the building while carbon dioxide sensors and a sophisticated building monitoring system make automatic adjustments to the ventilation system to accommodate the number of visitors in each space at any given time.

The museum also incorporates bamboo flooring as an environmentally friendly construction material, as bamboo is a renewable, fast-growing wood. Adhesives, sealants, paints, composite wood products and carpet systems were selected according to their ability to meet or exceed volatile organic compound limits.

Key Players

Owner: New York City Department of Design & Construction
Construction Manager: Skanska, USA Building, New York
Architect: Rafael Viñoly Architects, New York
Structural Engineer: Dewhurst MacFarlane & Partners, New York
MEP Engineer: ARUP Mechanical Engineers, New York
Civil Engineer: Philip Habib & Associates, New York
Acoustic/IT/Security Consultant: Shen Milsom & Wilke, New York
Cladding Consultant: Professional Consultants International, Avon, Conn.
Code Consultant/Expeditor: J. Callahan Consulting, New York
Cost Estimator: AMIS, New York
Excavation and Foundation: Urban Foundation/Engineering, East Elmhurst, N.Y.
Landscape Architect: Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, New York
LEED Consultant: Viridian Energy & Environmental, New York
Lighting Consultant: Lam Partners, Cambridge, Mass.
Excavation and Foundation: Urban Foundation and Engineering, East Elmhurst, N.Y.
Structural Steel & Metal Deck: Metropolitan Steel Industries (STEELCO), Roselle, N.J.
Plumbing and Sprinkler: Lafata-Corallo Plumbing & Heating, Brooklyn, N.Y.
HVAC: J.P.R. Mechanical, New Rochelle, N.Y.
Electrical: Danco Electrical Contractors, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Superstructure Concrete: C & L Contracting Corp., Flushing, N.Y.