Mill Valley Hillside
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The upper home looks down on a thriving garden. Photo: Scott McGlashan, 10/23/2008Project Name: Mill Valley Hillside
Year: 2009
Owner: Private
Location: Mill Valley, CA, USA
Building Type: Multi-Family Residential
Type: Semi-Intensive
System: Custom
Size: 5000 sq.ft.
Slope: 8%
Access: Accessible, Private
Submitted by: Scott McGlashan, McGlashan Architecture

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:
Architect: Scott McGlashan, McGlashan Architecture
Landscape Consultant: Brent Bucknum, Rana Creek
Landscape Architect: Julie Calandra, Calandra Designs
Roofing Contractor/Principal: Mac, Division 7 Waterproofing
Skylights poke through a diverse carpet of plants. Photo: Scott McGlashan 4/7/2010Echiums thriving. Photo: Scott McGlashan 4/28/2009As if the hillside ecosystem were peeled up to create shelter for the home below. Photo: Scott McGlashan 4/7/2010
Marin Hillside - McGlashan Architecture's brief was to provide a home for three generations of a family, in two households, on a steep grassy hillside in Marin County, California. Each of three levels is topped with a broad green roof, as if the living hillside was peeled up to create shelter below. Large skylights poke through to provide light and ventilation to the spaces below. Instead of unsightly roofing material, each level looks out on a living garden. Intergenerational peace through green roofs!
up at the Mill Valley Hillside House by McGlashan Architecture. Photo: CJ Chapman, 4/26/2008A reading nook looks out onto the green roof. Photo: Scott McGlashan 4/7/2010
The semi-intensive green roof was designed to balance weight, plant variety, and water efficiency. With no prior experience on green roofs, McGlashan Architecture did a crash course on the subject, gathering information from many sources to ensure a successful design. For the architect, the biggest challenge was getting a handle on the many overlapping fields of responsibility that converge on a green roof: roofing, landscape design and installation, material and soil suppliers, engineering, plumbing, sheet metal, etc.

For a first project in an emerging industry, the learning curve is steep. Along with a thorough study of the emerging literature (thanks, GRHC!), we consulted with, among others, Charlie Miller in Philadelphia and Brent Bucknum (formerly) at Rana Creek in Carmel, CA before we settled on a relatively simple section: 6-8" of lightweight soil over filter fabric over a Miradrain drainage mat over a root barrier over a Gaco Western cold liquid applied membrane, all supported on plywood decking and wood framing. The roof slopes are between 1/2" and 2" per foot. Irrigation is supplied with a Netafim Techline drip system. Completed in February, 2009, the roof is now just over 2 years old and continues to amaze and delight the owners.

Additional thumbnail photos:

Looking out across Mill Valley, soon after planting. Photo: CJ Chapman, 4/26/2008The upper home looks down on a thriving garden. Photo: Scott McGlashan, 10/23/2008Two years after planting, the plants have throughly taken over. Photo: Scott McGlashan 4/7/201living below the roof garden. Photo: Scott McGlashan 4/7/2010
Read the following articles and posts to learn more about this beautiful and very eco-friendly project: 2010's Green Roof Design: 10 Stunning, Sustainable Works of Architecture in The Coolist; Under the Living Roof by P.J. Bremier in Marin Magazine of March, 2009; The Mill Valley Residence by McGlashan Architecture in Contemporist of December, 2008. Visit a gallery of project photos here. The primary contact for the Mill Valley Hillside greenroof project is Scott McGlashan of McGlashan Architecture: http://www.mcglashanarchitecture.com/ and 510.549.2102. Also contact Greenroof Consultant Brent Bucknum at http://hyphae.net/ and 510.922.9355; and Landcape Architect Julie Callandra at 510.482.6426.
 
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