NYC Rooftop Garden Brings Environmental Ethics to a Generation

Brooklyn Museum Creates Generation G- for Garden

By: Clara Perez


After nearly a decade of planning and construction, The Brooklyn Children’s Museum has officially opened its garden gates.

This past August, The Brooklyn Children’s Museum in Crown Heights unveiled its 20,000-foot rooftop garden.

This towering oasis offers children exposure to a plethora of different plant life from one corner to the other.

On one side, children can frolic about a mini woodland with a wooden zigzagging path running through it. Or, they may choose to walk among the sweetbay magnolia and sassafras trees on the other.

There are also tables and chairs tucked in to other foliage that may make for the perfect place to appreciate the nature of it all.

This final design has come to fruition from the ideas and inspirations of multiple architects of different eras of design.

The original building, now 118 years old, was designed by Hugh Hardy and then extensively remodeled by another architect named Rafael Viñoly in 2008.

The final piece was designed in 2015 by the renowned Toshiko Mori who created a high-tech translucent pavilion that stretches over the roof-top garden and resembles a bird in flight.

This pavilion can be seen from neighboring areas and serves as a marker for the beauty it beholds.

The garden has been referred to as “a gateway to nature” by the museum’s president and this statement couldn’t hold more importance to the children in New York City.

Living encased in a concrete jungle, some native New York children have never had the chance to experience the beautiful sights, sounds and textures that nature has to offer.

With only small and irregularly dispersed patches of lawn, small trees or the occasional residential garden, our younger generations haven’t been exposed to the humbling experiences that dense and plentiful natural corridors conjure.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines environmental ethics as “the discipline in philosophy that studies the moral relationship of human beings to, and also the value and moral status of, the environment and its non-human contents.”

If our next generation of leaders and influencers never get to forge that moral relationship with nature and if they never learn to value the environment, then the shreds of environmental ethics that still exist today will surely go extinct with the end of our generation.

It is critically important to focus this ethical discussion on inner-city children, like those living in Brooklyn, as they do not have the same environmental resources as children living in other states or countries.

There aren’t forests to hike in around the block or wetlands to explore a highway exit away.

Organizations like The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, who are introducing children to snapshots of nature and helping to foster environmental ethics, are vital in our growing nation.

The degradation of the environment without understanding or empathy for the consequences is a common practice on a local and global scale.

This lack of ethical connection to nature is the result of the generations before today’s children and must be repaired by these same generations.

Creating “Generation G- for Garden” is a cumbersome task with great reward.

If businesses, organizations, companies, and even households began to emphasize the importance of treating the environment ethically, then we may begin to mitigate the destruction of nature on local scales.

Leading by example, large and well-known cities like New York, can set the stage for an environmentally conscious future generation-“Generation G”.

If knowledge is power, then we can only imagine what the entire “Generation G” can offer the world with a new found knowledge and appreciation for something long-exploited and undervalued as our environment.

Teach our children to be green and we may all reap the benefits.   

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