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Additional Resources

The Gary Comer Youth Center is located at 7200 South Ingleside Avenue, Chicago, IL 60619; 773.358.4100. Learn more about the Gary Comer Youth Center and all their awards at their website. See the following profiles from: John Ronan Architect; Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects; Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF); and American Hydrotech. Read the: Jan/Feb 2011 Room to Grow by Anna Suardini in Sustainable Facility Magazine, which also has video; December 29, 2010 Rooftop Gardens: Ecology, Food, and Learning by Helen Christophi in GreenBuildingNews; and the January 8, 2009 Gary Comer Youth Center and U.S. Steel site master plan win national AIA Honor Awards by Blair Kamin. For more information regarding this project, visit or contact John Ronan of John Ronan Architect at: 312.951.6600 or

Learn about the following companies in The Greenroof & Greenwall Directory: American Hydrotech and Intrinsic Landscaping.

“The award-winning Gary Comer Youth Center was designed by John Ronan Architect to specifically support the activities of The South Shore Drill Team and programs for children of the neighboring Paul Revere School. Educational and recreational spaces wrap the Drill Team’s main practice and performance area, with major spaces exposed on the building exterior to promote the activity inside to the community, and invite participation.

“The Gary Comer Youth Center is a shining new youth center located in one of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. It demonstrates a commitment to its community by providing a constructive environment for area youths ages 8-18 to spend their after-school hours. Educational and recreational programs focus on health and nutrition, performing arts, technology, physical fitness, civic engagement and leadership development. In them, more than 600 disadvantaged youth work to better their chances of success in life,” (GCYC).

The Gary Comer Youth Center roof garden functions as an outdoor classroom, enriching a variety of mathematics, horticultural, culinary and business courses that help to prepare students for college and careers. The diverse educational platform also serves community members ages 8-80+ who contribute and partake in the greenroof garden’s learning programs and activities throughout the year. The Gary Comer Youth Center produces 1,000 lbs of fruits and vegetables annually. Every day, 175 children at the center are fed from the rooftop crops; excess is distributed among four local restaurants and is also sold at a local farmers market.

“A central element of the center is its green roof. Located over the gymnasium and cafeteria and encircled by the broad windows of the third floor, this courtyard garden provides students who have little access to safe outdoor space the opportunity to interact with the natural world freely. With a 24″ depth of soil, children can plant and harvest vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs, and grasses as part of a comprehensive educational program developed by the center’s Garden Manager.

As children learn about the seed-to-harvest cycle, they also learn about environmental concerns, the green roof, botany, cooking, and the processes of nurturing growth in a garden. The garden collects rainwater, and serves to reduce the urban heat island effect in a way that simultaneously reinforces the educational mission of the youth center,” (John Ronan Architect).

Studies on the roof have shown that the microclimate in the rooftop courtyard averages temperatures between 20-30 degrees F warmer on the roof in winter and 10 degrees F cooler in summer. The Center saves $250 in annual heating and cooling costs as compared to a conventional roof by moderating heat gain and loss (LAF).

The Gary Comer Youth Center is the recipient of numerous awards, including the: 2010 ASLA Professional Award – Honor Award; Green Roofs for Healthy Cities 2009 Awards of Excellence in the Intensive Institutional Category; and AIA Chicago 2007 Design Excellence Awards – Special Recognition.


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