Fight For Sunlight Campaign Opposes High-Rise Towers
Raj Ahamed Raju

Three hundred activists came together in the Palm House earlier this month for the 2020 kickoff of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Fight for Sunlight campaign.

The campaign is a grassroots effort to prevent high-rise towers from blocking sunlight to the Garden’s greenhouse complex. Specifically situated for access to sunlight, this complex houses 20 percent of the Garden’s plant collection—including rare and endangered orchids, cacti, and bonsai—as well as the growing facilities that help replenish all 52 acres of the Garden.


Event speakers (from left): Elizabeth Goldstein, president of Municipal Arts Society; Scot Medbury, president of Brooklyn Botanic Garden; Pamela Pettyjohn, president of Coney Island Beautification Group; Gail Lambert, principal at Brooklyn Academy for Science and the Environment. Photo by Michael Stewart.

The 39-story towers that are proposed at this site, just 150 feet from the Garden, would cast shadows that would significantly harm the plant collection.

Speakers gave the crowd more details about the impact these shadows would have on the Garden and how the public can help by speaking out on the proposed zoning change that would allow such tall buildings.

More: Sign the Fight for Sunlight Petition!

“Safeguarding light and air is the origin story of zoning—it’s the reason zoning exits here in New York,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, Municipal Arts Society president. “We deserve a public policy that safeguards light for all New Yorkers.”

Current zoning protects the Garden’s access to sunlight by capping building height in the surrounding neighborhood.

Vice president of Education and Interpretation Sonal Bhatt speaks with a Garden visitor about the impact lost sunlight would have on the Education greenhouses at BBG. Photo by Michael Stewart.

“We’re hoping to change the conversation around this project,” said Scot Medbury, Brooklyn Botanic Garden president. “It’s too much—going from the six- or seven-story buildings allowed under the present zoning to a pair of towers that are 39 stories with high bulkheads.”

The Garden’s Horticulture and Education staff also hosted visits to the conservatories and greenhouses and explained how the shadows would affect their work.

Moving forward, the volunteers will help spread the word about Fight for Sunlight in the community. More information about Fight for Sunlight and how the towers will affect the Garden can be found online.