A Historic Day in Atlanta: the First Greenroof Wedding!

May 31, 2010 at 9:46 am

On Saturday, May 22, 2010 we believe history was made in downtown ATL when Bill Brigham and Beate Allio took their wedding vows.   A traditional affair  with silk and lace, ribbons, flowers, and lovely music, this was still no ordinary wedding ceremony ~ we’ve all heard about going down to City Hall to get hitched, but our bride and groom were married in front of about 50 family and friends high above the city street on the Atlanta City Hall Pilot Greenroof!

We’re sure it was the first wedding on the Atlanta City Hall Greenroof, and believe it was the first on an ATL  living roof, maybe the southeast or even the   U.S. – if you know better, please let us know and we’ll blog about it, too.   But until then, Bill and Beate will claim the title.

I’ve known Bill Brigham, ASLA, Principal Landscape Architect/Project Manager, Bureau of Watershed Protection, Department of Watershed Management, City of Atlanta since 2001 when I was involved in the initial planning sessions for the greenroof on the Atlanta City Hall, back when then Environmental Manager Ben Taube and team were considering the old Atlanta City Hall East…   Bill eventually designed the greenroof on the new City Hall at 55 Trinity Avenue, and we’ve attended many meetings and conferences together, were on the Atlanta Local Host Committee for last year’s Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, plus we filmed him here last October (see Rooftop Hopping in Metro Atlanta, photo below), and anyone who knows Bill is immediately impressed by his extreme good nature and sense of humor (landscape architecture skills not withstanding!).Bill getting ready for his interview with Landon!Due to weight and space limitations, the guest list was very selective, so  Aramis and I  felt honored to have been included in the couple’s special day.   A second marriage for both, it was very touching to see the blended family together.   Bill’s son, Roland, was the Best Man, and Beate’s daughter, Nicole, was the Maid of Honor.   The bride’s two sons, Chris and Devon, were Groomsmen and both the Mother of the Bride, Mrs. Renate Freter, and the Mother of the Groom, Mrs. Charlotte Larsen, were part of the wedding party.

Scott Lubar was the Officiant uniting the couple, and we all enjoyed Bill Grabbe, the pianist, and Carol Smart, the soloist with their  delightful music and voice.

The colorful,  intimate setting was perfect for a man so instrumental in the design, ongoing research and maintenance of the greenroof, and fitting for a woman who was introduced to the future groom  by Lucy Smethurst, a conservationist, plantswoman, artist,  and neighbor of Saul Nurseries‘ “Swamp” location.   Bobby Saul donated all the plants for the project in 2001 along with the greenroof growing media from Ernie Higgins of ItSaul Natural – Mr. Natural  (both in attendance),  and Bobby had afterwards  introduced Bill to  Lucy, and then Lucy introduced the bride and groom!   So you could say  greenroofs and kismet played a part in the couple’s future.

“Plant love.   Leave no waste.”

That could have been the motto of the wedding.   The invitation was printed on 100% post consumer waste, on seeded, plantable paper – all we have to do now is plant the invitation in a sunny corner and  keep it moist, and we’ll have a mini wildflower field to remind us of the balmy late spring day.

And wait, it gets better!   Instead of throwing rice or bird seed during the recessional  -Bill  had said, “Heaven forbid!”   The couple opted for a safer alternative, both  environmentally conscious  and beneficial:

“We  will be using the green rice look-a-like”¦ sedum leaflets  stripped from the sedum species  already being used up on the existing roof.   (Another one of my crazy ideas.)   This way it keeps any “invasive” plant species from destroying the roof and will instead act as a “re-seed” to the existing roof’s sedums.” ~ Bill Brigham  

Regeneration at its best with pretty sedum packets  after the expression of vows, exchange of rings and announcement of marriage!   The reception followed at Lucy Smethurst’s estate, which is  nestled in a beautiful natural wooded area with  naturalistic plantings, trails and artist gallery.

Thanks to Bruce Morton of Exposure Media Photo  for sharing his photos with Greenroofs.com (which are available for purchase).  

Congratulations to  Bill and Beate and the new Brigham-Allio  family!   Perhaps  this will be just  the first of many more greenroof weddings to come  at Atlanta City Hall.

~ Linda V.

 

GPW: Westview Condos

April 25, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Where can you find urban rooftop sophistication that meets a native Tennessee landscape on a rehabilitated condo building?   Greenroofs.com’s Greenroof Project of the Week is the Westview Condos in Nashville, Tennessee –  a wonderful example of urban renewal by incorporating  beautiful and  much needed nature on an exclusive,  10-unit residential  building  in the heart of a bustling city.   Originally a corporate office building, the renovated property was converted to high-end, mid-rise condos in 2005.

 

The first residential greenroof in Nashville,  the 8-story  structure was redeveloped to provide exclusive and luxurious loft condominiums with spectacular views of downtown.    A lobby and commercial space occupy the first floor with indoor parking on the second level, leaving six floors for residences, topped off with a lush vegetated roof used by residents as recreational space.

The eco-friendly project won the 2006 residential award for greenroof design from the  USGBC Tennessee chapter.

Developer Ron McClaron of McClaron and Associates chose to replace the  previous roof with a greenroof because he considered the Westview a prime location for launching an environmental demonstration project.   I met Ron in August, 2003 when he came to visit my first built greenroof project in downtown Atlanta, the 3TEN HauStudio.   He was starting research into the possibility of renovating  this former Southern Bell building into condos and wanted to pick my brain about costs, plants, etc.

The Nashville roof was in poor condition and as he looked at options, he desired considering greening the roof to take advantage of the environmental advantages and as a means of possibly enhancing the building’s value and marketability.   He knew that weight wasn’t a particular consideration in this application since the basic structural support was pre-stressed concrete –  the building was designed with the idea that Southern Bell might have desired to add additional floors at some point.

Yet, the process wasn’t as easy as might have been expected, given all the environmental and economic benefits of living roofs:

“…city officials had to be convinced this project’s benefits would outweigh difficult logistics associated with downtown construction and transportation of greenroof building material, and potential fire safety hazards.” ~ Southeast Watershed Forum Case Study

The Tennessee Valley Authority  (TVA) contributed funds in the form of grants in order to use this as a demonstration project of their commitment to sustainability.   You must agree that Ron’s original vision for a more sustainable redevelopment was successful – the condos range from 2,300 to 5,00 sf and all ten units were sold quickly.    In fact, many homeowners had identified the greenroof as their top reason for buying in The Westview.

The private roof top garden provides a 360 degree vista of Nashville including the State Capitol,  and homeowners entertain their guests in four separate sitting areas, including  a gazebo, while watching butterflies and listening to birds.   They even have a gas grill and wine chiller for comfortable dining al fresco, surrounded by trees, shrubs, grasses, and blooming perennials!

As you may know, Ralph Velasquez is our Sustainable Roofing Editor, but in 2005 he was the Greenroof Consultant for the Westview Condos project as president of  his previous company, Integrated Building Technologies (currently he is now Director, Sustainable Technologies  Group with Tremco Inc.).   FAMOS GmbH  greenroofing membranes and two-ply modified bitumen built up system were used, supplied  through Building Logics  (see more details in the project profile).
 

The RD Herbert Roofing Company installed the roof system and provided metal edgings and other custom metal products.   And the case study  on their website adds that “wall flashings were covered with a soy-based reflective coating for aesthetic and environmental reasons.”   Another ecological feature is the pavers, which are made of recycled tires.   Landscape architectural services were provided by Lose & Associates.
 

Landscaped with all native southeastern U.S. plants from GroWild, the  peaceful retreat  includes American Smoketree, Serviceberry, Blueberry, Prairie Dropseed, Little Bluestem and the federally endangered Tennessee Coneflower.   Owned by the husband and wife team of Mike Berkley and Terri Barnes, GroWild  is a Tennessee plant nursery specializing in native North American plants.   GroWild has over 850 species and cultivars of native perennials, wildflowers, trees, shrubs, vines, and grasses.

The growing media from Mr. Natural contains Permatill, an expanded slate,  and  other rooftop mixtures, provided by Ernie Higgins of  ItSaul Natural, with a depth that  ranges from 6″ to 30″ .     The lightweight “Roof Planting Soil” for intensive greenroofs provides the native plantings all they need for sustained health and growth.

Metro Nashville now has many greenroofs in place, with more planned or on the boards.   I haven’t been to Nashville in many years, and would love to see this gorgeous vegetated roof, along with several others here, the next time I’m in the area.   You’ll be happy to know that this roof is available for occasional viewing, by appointment only.   To schedule a tour of the  Westview Condos greenroof, please contact Mike Berkley at GroWild, Inc. at: 615.799.1910 or growildtb@aol.com.

 ~ Linda V.

Happy Earth Day 2010!

April 22, 2010 at 11:15 am

Happy Earth Day 2010!   It’s the 40th anniversary of observing this date, and April has been unofficially dubbed Earth Month, too, in its honor.   April is also Landscape Architecture Month, a fitting selection for a profession so dedicated to respecting the Earth through responsible environmental design.

So how am I celebrating Earth Day and Month?   Well, you know we started our first annual “Love the Earth! Plant a Roof Earth Day Photo Contest”  – it’s open until April 28 for entering your favorite living roof and for voting.   By the way, there’s one clear early leader so far with over 200 votes!   Get your friends and colleagues to vote for your roof shot now.   We’ll announce the winner on April 30.

My hands-on project involves a local area  Daisy Troop – eleven young girls aged 7 and 8 who attend Birmingham Falls Elementary  in Milton, Georgia.   Their Girl Scout Leader, mom Sandra Nichols, contacted me a while back about speaking to the troop about the greenroof I designed at Rock Mill Park  in Alpharetta, GA.   The girls are working towards one of their badges, the  Clover Project, which involves preserving and protecting a local treasure and saving resources.   Since Sandra had been to the park before, she felt this would be a great learning opportunity to present the greenroof idea to the girls to educate them about saving water and reducing energy usage.

By the way, our Student Intern, Caroline Menetre – below, and I had just been up to the roof last week, doing routine weeding and taking notes to see which plants had fared well and which ones didn’t – more on that later.

Being a mom of three myself, and now a grandmom, of course I said yes!   I met with them this past Tuesday and had a blast speaking about rain water, stormwater, and an introduction to greenroofs to this lively and rambunctious group.   They especially loved touching all the plants in our four Greenroof Trial Garden tabletops – and they all got to try the garlicky Alliums in the Non-native Module!

I’ll be following up with them at their school this upcoming Tuesday to help them plant two 2′ x 2′ x 4″ greenroof modules of their own – both Green Roof Blocks and GreenGrid  donated a module each, which will be on display at the school for all the children to have hands-on experience and learn about different types of greenroof plants.   Thanks to Kelly Luckett of Green Roof Blocks, and Jim Lindell and Greg Harper of GreenGrid!   I should add a thanks to GreenTech as well – they offered their larger 4′ x 4′ x 8 1/2″ module, but it was decided  two smaller modules placed in two locations would better serve the students.

Also, Bobby Saul of Saul Nurseries  here in Atlanta and Alpharetta, GA, is donating the plants for both modules, as well as the growing media from ItSaul Natural.   After my little talk, I presented each girl with her own greenroof plant from Saul Nurseries to take home – a beautiful green  Jovibarba ‘Green Carpet’ –  succulent and spiky!   You know how kids like to touch things, well, they loved these!

I know that many of you are passionate about protecting the planet, and hopefully you are doing something this April to honor our land.   I’ll leave with this quote:

“Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species – man – acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world.” ~ Rachel Carson

~ Linda V.