GPW: NYC Parks Five Borough (5-Boro) Administrative Building

June 21, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week: 6/13/11
NYC Parks Five Borough (5-Boro)
Administrative Building

Randall’s Island, New York City, NY, USA
29,000 sf. Greenroof

Year: 2007-2010
Owner: New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
Location: Randall’s Island, New York City, NY,  USA
Building Type: Municipal/Government
Type: Extensive, Semi-Intensive & Intensive, Test/Research
System: Other
Size: 29,000 sq.ft.  
Slope: 1%
Access: Accessible, By Appointment

Project Description & Details

In spring 2007, the Five Borough Technical Services Division of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation began a program of installing green roofs of various designs atop the Five Borough Complex on Randall’s Island where it is headquartered. Starting with the installation of a modest 800 sf system, to date the division, together with Parks’ Green Apple Corps, has installed 24 systems covering over 29,000 sf of roof on the west wing of the building. Together, the systems here will, arguably, comprise the fifth largest green roof in New York City. These systems vary by types of growing medium, depth of growing medium, and plant selection. There are also other non-traditional green roof systems here including a green wall, container systems, a “walkable” atrium system, as well as planters on top of parapet walls.

Serving as an experimental station in which the performance of many different systems can be monitored and compared, the Technical Services’ green roof at Five Borough is truly at the forefront of green roof technology with some of the most innovative systems available. It has 19 traditional systems, 4 non-traditional systems, and one green wall making it the only roof in the nation (quite possibly the world) that has such a vast array of green roof systems side-by-side. It serves as a working laboratory for green roof design and construction, providing knowledge to the rest of the agency and other groups while at the same time conserving and giving back to the City of New York. A sophisticated green roof monitoring system and storm water retention system has also been incorporated into the display complimenting the working laboratory. Visits by appointment are welcomed.


Designers/Manufacturers of Record
Development & Design: Artie Rollins, Chief of  Technical Services and John Robilotti, Senior Project Manager, NYC Parks Department
Roofing Material Donation: Barrett Company
Modular Green Roof Systems: GreenGrid™, Green Paks™,  BioTrays™, Bioroof™, Custom
Layered Green  Roof  Systems: Xero Flor™, custom
Growing Medium: GaiaSoil™, rooflite ®, Metro-Mix 510, custom mixes
Plant Material: NYC Parks Native Plant Center, Emory Knoll Farms, Sempergreen
Greenwall System: ELT Easy Green
Installation: Five Borough Technical Services, NYC Parks Summer Interns, Green Apple Corps, FedEx’s Energy Smart Outreach, Columbia University students, Million Trees Volunteers,  NYC Parks Weatherization Crews

Additional Info

The NYC 5-Boro greenroof project has been so dynamic since its creative inception that it has been hard to keep up with them!  We have received updates over the years, though, from many people.  In fact, that’s what triggered its selection of our Greenroof Project of the Week.  Artie Rollins and  John Robilotti sent us an update which has grown to become our Guest Feature Article for June, which should be up in a few days, and so I figured we should also highlight it as a June GPW.

The truly inspiring aspect of the project is the dedication by John and Artie to initiate the project back in 2007 and, along with the combined efforts of many others, to continue to add different systems and components each year.  The amount and plant material alone – both native and non-native – is astounding.

Other new green technologies being trialed on the 5-Boro greenroof are: the addition of both solitary bees and honey bees taking up residency on Randall’s Island; an overhead trellis with a surface area of 650 square feet, but a roof foot print of only 90 square feet; a wood parapet system along the atrium parapet wall; a metal parapet wall along the west wing’s perimeter; and a small hydroponic system that can hold 20 plants.

In any case, the NYC Parks Five Borough Administrative Building manages to serves  many ecological purposes, including stormwater retention – both via the greenroof and collection tanks, mitigating the urban heat island effect, energy conservation, and food production, just to name a few.

The fact that it also provides  a variety of educational components, such as collecting plant, growing media, stormwater retention and other data; various interpretive signage; and allowing tours of the greenroof, is some really green icing on the cake.

I look forward to learning more about all the interesting and different traditional and non-traditional roof greening systems – look for the article soon here on Greenroofs.com from John and Artie,  two very hands-on NYC Parks Department professionals:

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!  Click  here to see more information about this project in  The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.  See how you can submit yours  here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.