Chic Sustainability Watch: Trends, Projects & People – Some Newly Started, Almost Done, & Finished

February 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm

As you know if you’re keeping up with us here at the Sky Gardens Blog, Haven Kiers and I will be taking turns highlighting some important, unusual or just stunning greenroof and greenwall projects for our new bi-monthly reporting series, “Chic Sustainability Watch.”

For my inaugural turn, rather than focus on a specific typology of chic sustainability – like Haven did with her inaugural report a couple of weeks ago on Chickens and Urban Agriculture – I’m taking a more general approach and will report on a variety of cool projects that I’ve seen across online news channels and the blogosphere that have either just broken ground, are almost completed, or have been newly opened for business and enjoyment.


Here’s one stunner that would have fit into our 2010 Top 10 List in the # 1 position – Tower Oases as Skyrise Urban Ag:

Image via: Treehugger

Swedish-American company Plantagon has just broken ground on the International Centre of Excellence for Urban Agriculture, the first of a series of massive skyscraper greenhouses in Linkoping, Sweden.  The prototype building will be an urban farming living laboratory to test new growing technologies.  This demo-plant of Swedish green technology relies on a transportation helix system where trays of plants are grown, irrigated, and harvested from the top of the “Plantscraper” on down to the basement. It’s great to see some of these visionary skyscrapers actually being built!

See Treehugger’s “Plantagon Breaks Ground On Their First Vertical Farm” by Lloyd Alter of February 14, 2012.  See the  Press Release.

Image via: Treehugger


Construction has started on the new monumental Taipei Performing Arts Center, or TPAC, in Taiwan.  OMA, a Dutch firm, beat out 135 entries from 25 countries to design the flexible, 3-volume performing platform complex that will hold a total of 3,100 seats in its three theaters.

Image via: designboom; Image © OMA

The design invites people with and without tickets into the structure with the “outdoor public loop,” and you’ll also find living architecture here at various levels.  In the section of the “Super Theatre” seen below you can see a couple of rooftops greened and the outdoor courtyards and promenades over the massive underground garage. The “Proscenium Playhouse” has similar features.

Image via: designboom; Image © OMA

See designboom’s “OMA: taipei performing arts center breaks ground” by andrea of February 17, 2012.


Downtown Miami will soon have another addition to its Museum Park – the Miami Science Museum (or MSM – not to be confused with the Miami Sound Machine!), designed by Grimshaw Architects.  Aside from some very cool exhibits such as a 600,000 gallon aquarium facility and a full dome 3-D planetarium, MSM will embrace sustainable elements and smart design including a constructed wetland, high performance ventilation and maximized site design to capture Miami breezes.

Image via: Inhabitat; Image ©Grimshaw Architects

Touted as a living building, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is a 250,000 square-foot complex that will have “a living core, vegetated roofs, and advanced systems that will allow it to physically and visibly change in response to weather, events, and the mood of the city.”

Image via: Inhabitat; Image ©Grimshaw Architects

See Inhabitat’s “Grimshaw Breaks Ground on the Miami Science Museum That Will Be Its Own Living Exhibit” by Bridgette Meinhold of February 27, 2012.


The affordable housing complex Via Verde by Jonathan Rose Companies and Dattner Architects in the South Bronx has been in the design world news for several years because of its social equity and sustainable design ethics.  In fact, we included it in our 2009 Top 10 List in the #3 position, Healthy, Efficient & Affordable Green Housing.

“You can literally walk into the courtyard and spiral your way up all of these green roofs, starting with an amphitheater, which will have summertime performances. Evergreen trees on the third floor roof, dwarfed fruit trees, the entire fifth floor roof is all gardening beds for residents to grow their own fruits and vegetables. Then there’s a fitness center on the seventh floor with an extensive green roof outside.” ~  Ari Goldstein, Senior Project Manager, Jonathan Rose Companies

The project is finally close to completion – the 71 co-op unit and 151 rental multi-family residence will be ready for occupancy by the end of March.  How awesome for Via Verde to be setting this new standard for affordable housing in New York City!

Image via: NY 1; click to see 2:00 video

See NY 1’s “New South Bronx Housing Complex Is Not ‘Green’ To Environmentally Friendly Ideas” by Jill Urban of February 26, 2012.


One amazing project that was just completed is Daniel Libeskind‘s residential complex Reflections at Keppel Bay in tropical Singapore – Aramis and I saw this when we visited there in November, 2010 and it was quite a sight to behold with its signature curved towers!  If only it had finished a few months earlier, Haven and I would have included it in last year’s Top 10 List for 2011 in the #1 position – Skyscraping Sky Gardens on Roofs, Walls & Skybridges.

Image via: designboom

The 6-highrise tower, 2 million sf complex has 1,129 units, and you’ll find a roof garden at the top of each tower as well as in the interconnecting skybridges.

Image via: designboom

See designboom’s “daniel libeskind: reflections at keppel bay” by lauren of February 2, 2012.


Designed by Perkins+Will, the spectacular LEED Platinum VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre in Vancouver, B.C. has just opened to the public.  Inspired by the shape of a native orchid, the multi-petal shaped greenroof was designed by Cornelia Oberlander‘s firm.  Haven and I had the pleasure of meeting Cornelia at the 2010 CitiesAlive Conference and learning a bit about this wonderful project.

In fact, we loved it so much we  included it in our  Top 10 List for 2011 in the #5 position, Green + Blue Roofs = Integrated Water Management.  Pending  certification from the Living Building Challenge,  the Visitor Centre expects to achieve net-zero energy on an annual basis through various ingenious systems.  I’ll definitely visit this one the next time I’m in beautiful Vancouver, B.C.!

See Inhabitat’s “Canada’s Gorgeous Green-Roofed VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre Opens to the Public!” by Diane Pham of February 12, 2012

Check back with us in a couple of weeks or so when it’ll be Haven’s turn to update you on our Chic Sustainability Watch: Trends, Projects & People!

Happy greening,

Linda V.

The 2010 “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!” Earth Day Photo Contest Top 10 List

May 3, 2010 at 2:58 am

You know by now that the winner of our inaugural “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!” Earth Day Photo Contest 2010 is ESRI Canada’s Garden in the Sky, and here we go, following up with our Top 10 List of the entries accumulating the highest number of votes overall.

We received 30 photos of international living roof projects representing seven countries, including the United States (18), Canada (6), UK (2), Japan (1), Singapore (1), Germany (1), and Sweden (1).

Without further ado, here are the top votes in descending order – click on hyperlinks to learn more about each project – if they don’t have one, that means we don’t have a profile yet in The Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database, but we will soon:

2010 “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!” Earth Day Photo Contest
Top 10 List

#1) ESRI Canada’s Garden in the Sky, Toronto, Ontario, Canada – 735 votes

Overlooking one of Toronto’s busiest highways, this 7,500-sq-ft portable garden reduces urban heat, noise and stormwater runoff. It provides lush meeting space for staff and visitors, as well as habitat for birds and butterflies. It helps create a greener, healthier environment. Photo by Margaret Mulligan.

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#2)  parc24, Vero Beach, Florida, USA – 190 votes

Parc24 is taking a stand, and directing Vero Beach into the future, where business can be smart by design and green by nature. Photo by Leah Campbell.

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#3)  Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada – 158 votes

This green roof is the pinnacle of what a green roof should be. It combines Art, Architecture, Design, and Ingenuity, without sacrificing its Ecological Benefits. Photo by Patrick Biller.

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#4)  Bellevue Towers, Bellevue, Washington, USA – 86 votes

At nearly an acre in size, the rooftop garden’s bold, modern geometry is informed by the curvilinear tower design, which includes 27,100 square feet of intensive roof garden planting area and 6,400 square feet of extensive ecoroof.  The intensive gardens between towers provide a valuable, usable outdoor spaces for the residents and a visual asset to the condominium units above and adjacent office buildings. This project is certified LEED Gold. Photo by Ben Johnson.

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#5)  Longdrive Residential green roof, Long Eddy, New York, USA – 85 votes

Located on 63 acres in upstate New York the house sits at the edge of the woods overlooking a meadow.  The planted roof on three levels blends into the natural landscape and encourages the wildlife to creep in close to the house. Photo by Steve Chrostowski.

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#6)  St. Louis Children’s Hospital Rooftop Garden,  St. Louis, Missouri, USA – 71 votes

Just outside St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s eighth floor, patients have a unique setting to enjoy time with nature, a private walk or quiet reflection. The 8,000-square-foot Olson Family Garden , an interactive rooftop oasis designed expressly for children and families who want a place for privacy, solace and healing, is another reason why St. Louis Children’s Hospital is a special place for kids. Photo by Tom Tyler.

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#7)  Trent University, Peterborough, ON Canada – 47 votes

Trent’s roof top garden sits on our Environmental Sciences Building providing learning and volunteer opportunities for students.  In this garden we grow vegetables and herbs that are served in our organic campus cafe, the Seasoned Spoon!  Photo by Leslie Menagh.

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#8)  College of Law, Saskatoon, Canada – 36 votes

This 650 m2 green roof is thriving in an extreme climate. Pasture sage, a plant indigenous to the region, grows above the Native Law Centre. In late summer, the sage is harvested in a traditional manner by faculty of the NLC to use for smudging in ceremonies throughout the following year. Photo by Goya Ngan.

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#9)  Greenroof Pavilion at Rock Mill Park, Alpharetta, Georgia, USA – 32 votes

The Greenroof Pavilion design honors the land and Cherokee heritage in this historically and environmentally sensitive Big Creek Watershed with The Greenroof Trial Gardens display; hands-on models and interpretive signage inform young and old alike. Photo by Caroline Menetre.

Note:  FYI – Although I designed this, I did not vote for it, nor any other project for that matter.  This entry was submitted by Caroline Menetre, our Student Intern, who has helped me with planting, plant trial record keeping, and weeding duties – I like how she didn’t even bother to come up with her own narrative, but felt comfortable just copying my own example above!

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#10)  Miami Science Museum, Miami, Florida, USA – 21 votes

The Museum’s four green roof assemblies, each with varied depths and irrigation schedules, include interpretive signs and rain/ temperature sensors. They provide information for visitors and data for the designers of the Museum’s new building. Photo by Chris Trigg.

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See all the photo submittals here.  In my eyes, everyone who entered a photo is a winner, and I know we all enjoyed seeing this wide assortment of greenroofs.  Next year I promise to start earlier so you can have more time to get your “people” to vote for your favorite project – but it was fun, although a bit fast and furious!

Happy greening ~ Linda V.