Chicago City Hall
 Information Partner Information Partner Information Partner  
Chicago City Hall Photo Courtesy of ?Roofmeadow, Inc., www.roofmeadow.comProject Name: Chicago City Hall
Year: 2001
Owner: City of Chicago, Dept of Environment
Location: Chicago, IL, USA
Building Type: Municipal/Government
Type: Semi-Extensive, Test/Research
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 20300 sq.ft.
Slope: 1.5%
Access: Accessible, Private
Submitted by: Linda S. Velazquez

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:
Roofscapes Contractor: Church Landscape
Landscape Architect: Conservation Design Forum
Architect: McDonough + Partners
Project Engineer: Roy F. Weston, Inc.
General Contractor: Bennett and Brosseau Roofing
Waterproofing: Sarnafil
Greenroof Consultant: J?rg Breuning, Green Roof Service LLC
Greenroof System: Roofscapes, Inc. (now Roofmeadow)
Chicago City Hall Photo Courtesy of ?Roofmeadow, Inc.Master Plan by Conservation Design Forum, Source: www.roofmeadow.comChicago City Hall Photo Courtesy of ?Roofmeadow, Inc.
As part of an EPA study and initiative to combat the urban heat island effect and to improve urban air quality, Mayor Richard M. Daley and the City of Chicago began construction of a 38,800 square foot (total roof area) semi-extensive greenroof in April 2000. It was completed at the end of 2001 at a cost $2.5 million, funded by a settlement with ComEd. Encompassing one square block and twelve stories high, this retrofit application serves as a demonstration project and test greenroof. The project was completed in the summer of 2001 and will monitored for plant survival as well as other environmental features. Chicago City Hall's greenroof saves $5,000 a year on utility bills, according to Michael Berkshire.

"This is unique to Chicago," said Richard Price of the Virginia-based William McDonough & Partners, the architectural firm that is designing the garden. "No one else has looked at rooftop gardens to mitigate urban heat island effect, which is a process whereby highly urbanized areas with hard surfaces tend to be degrees hotter than green areas," (, May 2000).

According to a March 1, 2002 article in The Wall Street Journal, "The garden's origins can be traced back ten years, to when the city's electric utility, Commonwealth Edison, failed to make good on a 1991 franchise agreement. The city "sought legal recourse through binding arbitration and won a $1.1 billion settlement," explains Jessica Rio, spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Environment (DOE). Some of that is being used to support Chicago mayor Richard Daley's vow to make Chicago "the greenest city in America." As part of the March 1999 settlement, the utility established a $100 million "fund for the future" administered by the DOE, $2.5 million of which was committed to found the DOE's Urban Heat Island Initiative (UHII) in late 1999."

This project is winner of the American Society of Landscape Architects 2002 Professional Merit Award.
Chicago City Hall Photo Courtesy of ?Roofmeadow, Inc.Photo Source: Chicago Department of the Environment
Roofmeadow? Types II: Aromatic Garden, IV: Meadow 1, and Omega: Woodlands vegetation were used. Since the City Hall occupies only half of the entire building - sharing with Cook County's administrative offices - weather stations have been assembled on both sides of the roof: one green and one tar. Test data will be collected from monitoring temperature, rainfall, wind speed and direction (John Beaudry, June 2000). Click here for a PDF of the 8/8/01 Chicago City Hall Temperature Fluctuation Differences between both sides of the building, greened (City Hall) vs. barren (Cook County).

The 20,300 square foot City Hall rooftop garden has over 20,000 herbaceous plants installed as plugs of more than 150 varieties including 100 woody shrubs, 40 vines and 2 trees - a Cockspur Hawthorn and Prairie Crabapple. Although rainwater will be collected and saved from the 7,700 square foot penthouse, a supplemental irrigation system will aid in establishing the plants as well as provide supplemental water during extreme periods of drought (Landscape Architecture Magazine, September, 2000; John Beaudry, June, 2000).

Due to the very high visibility factor associated with this particular project, numerous articles have been presented to the public, a few of which can be accessed from NEWS LINKS and Archives. Click the following to link to read more about monitoring the project from the City of Chicago's site and learn more about the urban heat island effect problem and how they are creatively dealing with this subject of global importance. You may also view a PDF booklet prepared by the City of Chicago entitled "Chicago's Green Rooftops: A Guide to Rooftop Gardening" under How To's.

Additional thumbnail photos:

Chicago City Hall Photo Courtesy of ?Roofmeadow, Inc.Chicago City Hall Photo Courtesy of ?Roofmeadow, Inc.Chicago City Hall Photo Courtesy of ?Roofmeadow, Inc.Chicago City Hall Photo Courtesy of ?Roofmeadow, Inc.Chicago City Hall Photo Courtesy of ?Roofmeadow, Inc.
The Chicago City Hall Greenroof is not open for public tours. Visit the City of Chicago City Hall Greenroof website to learn more and see a Rooftop Garden Photo Gallery. Contact info (2002): Kimberly Worthington is the Project Manager for the Chicago City Hall Rooftop Garden and Assistant Commissioner, City of Chicago Department of the Environment, 30 N. LaSalle St., Suite 2500, Chicago IL 60622; 312.744.4034; (FAX) 312.744.5272 or Kevin Laberge is the former greenroof project coordinator and may be reached at 312.742.0463 or for further information.

The Chicago City Hall was featured in the 2012 Greenroofs & Walls of the World? Calendar for the month of March. Learn about the following companies in The Greenroof Directory: Roofscapes, Inc. (now Roofmeadow); Sika Sarnafil; and Green Roof Service.
Website Sponsor Website Sponsor Website Sponsor Website Sponsor Website Sponsor Website Sponsor
Website Sponsor Website Sponsor Website Sponsor Website Sponsor Website Sponsor Website Sponsor
Website Sponsor Website Sponsor Website Sponsor Website Sponsor Website Sponsor Website Sponsor
The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database is published, designed, and maintained by, LLC, Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.