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The Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building on the University of Iowa campus is located in Iowa City, IA; 319.335.7619; visit the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building website, the building page, and project webcam. Watch the 1:59 video University of Iowa – Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building – 1/5/15 from on the greenroofsTV channel on YouTube and the 2:03 PBDB Beauty Shots video by University of Iowa Health Care. See the project profile from LiveRoof and see the participation of the landscape architect, Confluence, here: Read the October 15, 2014 UI dedicates $126 million biomedical hub by Richard C. Lewis from IowaNow; July 31, 2014 Growing a better roof by Bill Adams in IowaNow; July 28, 2014 Green roofs take root at University of Iowa by Josh O’Leary in the Iowa Press Citizen; July 25, 2014 First Green Roof at the University of Iowa at the LiveRoof Blog; July 24, 2014 New UI facility features green roof by Michael Kadre in The Daily Iowan; and the May 20, 2014 Gov. Branstad tours University of Iowa facility, addresses faculty concerns by Vanessa Miller in The Gazette. For more information on this project,contact Roxanne Nagel, General Manager, Roof Top Sedums LLC at 563.505.7032 or

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The University of Iowa is in the midst of a $1.2 billion historic transformation with a number of major building projects underway, including its first-ever green roof. Located atop the $126 million Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building (PBDB), the historic state-of-the-art facility will be a hub for high-risk, high-reward research in diabetes, deafness, and brain science as well as complex diseases affecting the heart and lungs. The latest in a trio of biomedical research facilities on the Health Science Campus, the building is dedicated to enabling cutting edge interdisciplinary biomedical research. The mission of the new Pappajohn Biomedical Institute is to understand the fundamentals of biology and disease and to extend our discoveries into real-life applications that improve human health.

Green roofs support the University of Iowa 2020 Vision Sustainability Targets as well as the goal to attain LEED Gold certification for the hub of the Institute, the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building. The 256,000-square-foot building has six floors of research labs, each with approximately 20,000 gross square feet, 14,000 net square feet, and a mix of wet and dry labs. A lower level contains the Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging. Another lower level will contain an animal care unit.

Iowa state provided initial funding of $30 million for the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building. PBDB is home to the Pappajohn Biomedical Institute, the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center, the Franois M. Abboud Cardiovascular Research Center, the Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging, the University of Iowa Neurosciences Institute, the University of Iowa Auditory Research Program, and the University of Iowa Lung Biology Center. Longtime UI supporters John and Mary Pappajohn donated $26.4 million, and federal grants helped fill out the rest of the costs.

Stormwater benefits of PBDB’s green roof includes absorbing and storing rain water, as well as reducing toxic pollutants. Hot rooftop surfaces also transfer their excess heat to storm water and this green roof will reduce runoff from the building, which is just one block from the nearest waterway, the Iowa River.

Completed on July 29, 2014, the LiveRoof Deep Hybrid Green Roof System was used on this project, and was custom grown using 5 unique sedum mixtures in 6″ of growing media. Each plant mix also features hardy perennials such as Allium spp., Liatris spp., Rudbeckia spp., and Hosta spp. The pre-vegetated and fully-mature modules were installed in the organic shaped design in a unique pattern to create sweeps of yellows, reds, and greens. The green roof is the very first on the campus of the University of Iowa and created an instant green roof with overwhelming owner satisfaction.

Roxanne Nagel, co-owner of Roof Top Sedums says, “This green roof features a unique plant palette created by choosing plants with diverse colors and textures. The green roof design makes a bold visual statement and is visible from many levels of the building. The green roof also has several different microclimates that allowed designers to stretch the limits and use shade perennials such as hostas intermixed with the sedums.”

The formal opening of the John and Mary Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building was held on October 15, 2014.


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