GPW: Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central

December 29, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week: 11/28/11
Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central
Philadelphia, PA, USA
5,000 sf. Greenroof

Year: 2008
Owner: Free Library of Philadelphia
Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA
Building Type: Library
Type: Semi-Intensive, Test/Research
System: Custom
Size: 5,000 sq. ft.
Slope: 1%
Access: Accessible, Open to Public

Project Description & Details

Consisting of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Parkway Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the Free Library of Philadelphia is one of the most widely-used educational and cultural institutions in the city with more than six million visits annually.

Part of Mayor Michael Nutter’s green initiatives and the first on a city-owned building, the four story Beaux-Arts Parkway Central Library’s green roof demonstration project is divided into two areas flanking the east and west sides of the central roof terrace above the main entrance. 100 cubic yards of  rooflite ® growing media support more than 5,400 plants. Sedums include Murale White Stonecrop, Blue Cadet Creeping Sedum, and Blue Spruce Stonecrop along with grasses such as Blue Grama, Feather Reed Grass, Blue Fescue, and Prairie Dropseed. The accessible green roof offers informative signage and a beautiful view of central Philadelphia from the terrace.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Architect: Moshe Safdie and Associates
Architect: Kelly Maiello
Landscape Architect: Lager Raabe Skafte Landscape Architects
Greenroof Consultant: Peter Philippi, Green Roof Service, LLC
Roofing Contractor: U.S. Roofing
Growing Media: rooflite ® Extensive MC, Skyland USA
Planting Installation: Galbally Landscaping
Project Manager: Jim Pecora, Free Library of Philadelphia
Lead Project Coordinator: Fredda Lippes, City of Philadelphia
Moisture Retention Mat, Drainage Board, Root Barrier & Protection Fabric: Carlise

Additional Info

The City of Philadelphia is fast becoming a very green-oriented city due to Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the efforts of many.  The City is currently working on a $2 billion stormwater plan to rethink  the way the city deals with rain.   And, their Stormwater Management Practices Design Guidelines include specifics on greenroofs.

“The 25-year plan, which has been hailed as a national model, envisions green roofs on office buildings, porous pavement on city streets and parking lots, and plants and trees with tubs of gravel below ground to hold water and stall runoff in a storm.” ~ Philly.com of June 2, 2011

See the most recent version of the Philadelphia Stormwater Management Guidance Manual (Version 2.0 revised 4/29/2011).

Specifically pertaining to greenroofs, the City  offers up to $100,000 in business tax credits.   For more info, download the Business Privilege Tax Application for the Green Roof Tax Credit, Philadelphia Code § 19-2604(8).

The Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central is located on Logan Circle at 19th and Vine Street in Philadelphia and the greenroof project was initiated by Fredda Lippes, RA, LEED AP, Dept. of Public Property and Mayor’s Office of Sustainability for The City of Philadelphia.  The Library’s greenroof was designed by Moshe Safdie and Associates, the Library’s nationally-renowned architect of the Parkway Central Library’s expansion project and numerous other high-visibility living roofs (such as the Vancouver Public Library).  Sustainability and green building practices are being incorporated into the new 180,000 square-foot addition, and the Library is seeking a silver LEED designation for the new building.

“I want to commend all of those involved in making this vision a reality.  This project is another example to cities across the country of what can happen when many different sectors – government, business and non-profits – work in partnership towards a common goal.” ~ Mayor Michael A.  Nutter

Completed at a cost of $200,000, the greenroof is mostly an extensive design with some semi-intensive areas varying from a 6″ to 12″ soil depth range.   Located on the south side of the building and accessible off the 4th floor of the Skyline room, the Library greenroof terrace offers spectacular views of downtown.

Staging for the construction of the greenroof included closing of the streets by police.   Here you see the rooflite ® supersacks of growing media being trucked in:

By the way, rooflite ® says that it takes the crane operator to unload each sack in about 3 seconds!

Monitoring of the roof has included temperature recordings:

“The summer roof temperature prior to the green roof installation was recorded as 128 degrees on the ballasted areas to 170 degrees on the exposed black EPDM – the green roof surface would average approximately 30-40 degrees less than the ballasted area.” ~Delaware Valley Green Building Council

Informative signage was an important factor for The Free Library of Philadelphia to help educate the public on the many benefits of greenroofs:

“Every Great City Needs a Great Library!” ~ The Free Library of Philadelphia

Watch a short (1:51) construction video by The Free Library of Philadelphia below:

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.