What I Did on My Summer Vacation…

August 25, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Gorgeous bridges, buildings, and people in Copenhagen!First of all, I have to say that  the title is  just quite not right  because 1):   Although most students are back in school, summer is not over yet; and 2):   I haven’t had a real vacation in a long time, let alone this particularly hectic summer!   Of course, recently I have been traveling  in my “other career” to some wonderful cities – Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Madrid,  and Copenhagen –  but with only 24 -36 hour layovers, these visits  can hardly be considered holidays.

But I liked the classic tone of  “What I did on My Summer Vacation” because it sounds like I actually did something productive,  and I felt like I needed an excuse to explain why I haven’t posted anything in three months…  Well, I’m back and now Sky Gardens ~ where cool green meets lofty blue will be populated not only by me but all of our contributing editors on a more regular basis.   So what have  we been doing on Greenroofs.com?

For one thing, we’ve been keeping our Student Intern, Caroline Menetre, very busy with hands on visits to The Greenroof Pavilion & Trial Gardens of Rock Mill Park documenting our plant trials and with The Greenroof Projects Database, where she has been entering case studies like crazy.   Her internship will be over soon, and we’ll need some extra hands for research and data entry, so if you’re interested, please let me know: linda@greenroofs.com.

Caroline with camera and field notebook in hand, August 2008

After the whirlwind filming of our little “Love the Earth: Plant A Roof!” video in May, we embarked on a much larger project, our brand new “Sky Gardens” WebTV series, at the beginning of June.   We begin our internet journey to explore the organic architecture of greenroofs and visit all kinds of different, exciting projects around the world, and I’ll be your host on Greenroofs.TV.   We’re initiating our series highlighting greenroofs in the U.S., starting with one of my own designs – you guessed it – the beautiful and award-winning Rock Mill Park.   The City of Alpharetta  received the 2008 Water Resources Project of Excellence award and Breedlove Land Planning, who  designed the park,  just won a Merit Award from the Georgia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects – congratulations!

Each time I’ll take  you on a tour of one unique, stunning vegetative roof.   From planning through the design process, installation through completion,  we’ll share intimate stories from the stakeholders – government officials, designers, owners, product manufacturers and service providers.   Why was it built – what was the client’s intent or market driver?   Was it stormwater management, mitigation of the urban heat island, biodiversity, sexy aesthetics, or a combination?   What was the design philosophy and who was involved?   What were the site challenges, techniques used, and what were the lessons learned?   Bottom to top, we’ll show the materials used, culminating in the beautiful, living, breathing plant layer.   Each program will highlight the greenroof’s site specific benefits to the building’s ecology, the local environment, and the watershed at large.

Joey filming Bobby Saul at the Swamp, June, 2008

The Alpharetta project is unique for many reasons, especially because the entire property was originally owned by a full blood Cherokee and the site is located within the 100-year flood plain of Big Creek Watershed.   The Greenroof Pavilion is just one of the many low impact development techniques used to tread lighter on the environment and provide educational opportunties for visitors.   When is the air date?   We’ll keep you posted, but we’re planning on the end of September.

Visiting New Echota, GA, the former Cherokee Nation capital.

Speaking of September, are you going to the World Green Roof Congress in London?   The two day conference will discuss the challenges and opportunities faced when implementing green roofs, and will focus on the contributions that they can make to sustainable urban regeneration, climate change adaptation, sustainable storm water management as well as improvements to local biodiversity and quality of life within cities.   The conference will highlight latest innovations and research to support the effective promotion and delivery of green roof solutions as well as demonstrating examples of good practice from the UK and overseas.   We’re planning on going, but there may be a scheduling conflict with our second “Sky Gardens” WebTV episode – we’ll be filming in Manhattan atop a corporate headquarters, and the date hasn’t been confirmed yet!

Hopefully we can go and see Dusty Gedge of Livingroofs.org and all of our other friends from across the pond.   And it would be grand to go on one of the 6-day study tours from Green Roof Safari in Germany and Switzerland – we’ll see.   Green Roof Safari is a collaboration between Christine Thuring, our Student Editor, and Jörg Breuning of Green Roof Service, so I’m sure a lot of great vegetated roofs and fun will be involved.

I also  spent some  intense design time for a major greenroofing company on a potential  local commercial project – I delivered four conceptual illustrative designs and it would be just awesome if they decide to implement any of them!   Can’t tell you who it is, but it’s very exciting – let’s see what develops.

You know how last year we published our first Greenroofs of the World Calendar™?   Well, we’re currently gathering more stunning living roof projects for the 2009 Greenroofs of the World Calendar™, and this year  it will be available for purchase much earlier – in time for the holiday season!

So designing, writing, editing, and filming in 97 degree weather here in Georgia has taken up most of my summer, but don’t feel too badly for me.   Confession:   24 hours may not be enough to qualify as a vacation, but I have to admit that I always manage to have some fun on my (very) mini work-related holidays.   Sightseeing in a new city is always a must, as seen in these photos from Copenhagen earlier this month,  but I’m always looking for examples of green architecture, too.  

And to be honest,  it wasn’t really my first time in Denmark – my husband Aramis and I spent one day there in 2002 awaiting our return to the U.S., after I gave a greenroof presentation across the way in  Malmö, Sweden where we spent four wonderful days with our very gracious hosts, Peter and Violetta Lindhqvist, former directors of the Augustenborg Botanical Roof Garden and the International Green Roof Institute, now the Scandinavian Green Roof Association.

But on this trip I was able to go on a  canal tour and it was beautiful!   The overcast skies opened up to a gorgeous day on the water.   And I even found a sustainable design  exhibition going on offered by the Danish Architects Center.

So there you have it!   My next blogging endeavors will include interviewing all of our contributing editors, starting with Ed Snodgrass, our Plant Editor.   And look for a new editor coming on board soon, too.

Happy Greening & Safe Travels!

~ Linda