AIArchitect This Week Green Roofs on Chicago’s Red Line

PICTURES

This Week Connects is a collection of resources directly related to the article you are reading. We hope you find this a valuable, useful new tool from AIArchitect.

Chicago is widely known as the front-runner of green roofs in American cities. But even in this town, its rare for the average resident to see or walk upon a living roof.

When lecturing on the topic, Dave Hampton, of Hampton-Avery Architects, who was involved in the creation of True Nature Foods rooftop victory garden, asks who knows that Chicago has the most green roofs in the country and sees a lot of hands raised. The next question is whos been on one. Many fewer hands go up.

Theyre prevalent, and yet theyre not, he says. People dont see them, people dont know about them, theyre not aware of them.

Enter the Red Line Green Roofs Initiative, a proposed project that would transform 50,000 square feet of rooftops adjacent to the red line of the citys elevated public transit system into fields of green. The effort is one part the brainchild of Hampton and Michael Repkin, the biologist who helped develop the planting of True Nature Foods victory garden, and one part the completion of a longtime goal of Chicagos 48th Ward, the neighborhood where it would be implemented.

A willing home

Hampton and Repkin approached the 48th Ward in late 2008 with the idea to green an expanse of roofs because the neighborhood has a history of experimenting with sustainable technology such as permeable pavers. They just seemed to be into this kind of thing, Hampton says.

And as it turned out, the ward was not only into it, but their city council representative, Alderman Mary Ann Smith, had been interested in implementing a green roof project in her section of the city since the year 2000. A longtime environmental activist, she became inspired after seeing green roofs while on a trip to Europe. Couple both parties desire with the stimulus plans support of sustainability programs, and the time was right to make it happen.

Currently, Smiths office is seeking funding through the Department of Energys Energy Efficiency and Community Development Block Grant Program. Christine Forster, an intern in Smiths office who is leading this effort, learned through speaking with the Department of Energy that the Red Line Green Roofs Initiative is a good candidate for the grants because some funds are being allocated specifically for green roof projects. Additionally, the project seeks to encourage and increase use of Chicagos public transit system, which enhances its impact on sustainability.

This money is key to moving the project forward, explains Ernie Constantino, an aide to Alderman Smith. It seems like a big barrier to putting in these green roofs is just the cost, he says. So that was our approach here: Lets just pay for the whole thing, make it a pilot, and then see where it takes us.

As a pilot, the Red Line Green Roofs Initiative will bring more to the city and the 48th Ward than just a demonstration in green roof technology. Alderman Smith sees the initiative as a way to enhance a neighborhood rich with historic locations including the Uptown Theatre, the Aragon, and the Bryn Mawr Historic District. The current plan is to place public art and historic markers along the green roof settings.

This piece of the red line is profoundly uninteresting; its blighted, and it could be so much more, Smith says. Thats our goal.

Multiple outcomes, one route

One of the most striking features of the Red Line Green Roofs Initiative is that on one hand, its objective is simple: make 50,000 square feet of rooftop green. On the other hand, however, its end goals are too numerous to count, and in many ways this is because the benefits of green spaces are so far-reaching.

Everyone hopes that it will help improve the use of public transportation and the experience of using it. Both Constantino and Smith point to University of Illinois studies establishing a relationship between green space and both well-being and crime reduction. Repkin notes that the city has made great strides in planting its streetscape, but that those using public transit walk from a pleasantly vegetated area up to a train platform overlooking a purely utilitarian sea of roofs.

We want to try to create green space so when people go up to the platform, theyre not seeing crusty, nasty cracked tar, theyre seeing buckwheat flowers and rye, he says.

For his part, Hampton also hopes this pilot project will push forward the practice of architecture itself. He would one day like to see that a buildings roof become as important a piece of the structural plan as any other. Once funding is secured, the next step will be seeing which buildings are viable for living roofsone of the key challenges in a retrofit. He and Repkin share the vision that one day living roofs will no longer be a late addition but instead built into the structures design from the beginning.

Hampton hopes that traveling along such a vast expanse of living roofs will help this idea take root. And though he might one day like to see building owners bragging to one another about how many tomatoes their rooftop garden produced in a year, right now hed just like to see people paying attention to the fact that a roof is a part of the structure too.

Hopefully this demonstrates the principle that you want to be thinking about the fifth faade of your building, he says. The fifth faade is that roof.

PICTURES

This Week Connects is a collection of resources directly related to the article you are reading. We hope you find this a valuable, useful new tool from AIArchitect.

Chicago is widely known as the front-runner of green roofs in American cities. But even in this town, its rare for the average resident to see or walk upon a living roof.

When lecturing on the topic, Dave Hampton, of Hampton-Avery Architects, who was involved in the creation of True Nature Foods rooftop victory garden, asks who knows that Chicago has the most green roofs in the country and sees a lot of hands raised. The next question is whos been on one. Many fewer hands go up.

Theyre prevalent, and yet theyre not, he says. People dont see them, people dont know about them, theyre not aware of them.

Enter the Red Line Green Roofs Initiative, a proposed project that would transform 50,000 square feet of rooftops adjacent to the red line of the citys elevated public transit system into fields of green. The effort is one part the brainchild of Hampton and Michael Repkin, the biologist who helped develop the planting of True Nature Foods victory garden, and one part the completion of a longtime goal of Chicagos 48th Ward, the neighborhood where it would be implemented.

A willing home

Hampton and Repkin approached the 48th Ward in late 2008 with the idea to green an expanse of roofs because the neighborhood has a history of experimenting with sustainable technology such as permeable pavers. They just seemed to be into this kind of thing, Hampton says.

And as it turned out, the ward was not only into it, but their city council representative, Alderman Mary Ann Smith, had been interested in implementing a green roof project in her section of the city since the year 2000. A longtime environmental activist, she became inspired after seeing green roofs while on a trip to Europe. Couple both parties desire with the stimulus plans support of sustainability programs, and the time was right to make it happen.

Currently, Smiths office is seeking funding through the Department of Energys Energy Efficiency and Community Development Block Grant Program. Christine Forster, an intern in Smiths office who is leading this effort, learned through speaking with the Department of Energy that the Red Line Green Roofs Initiative is a good candidate for the grants because some funds are being allocated specifically for green roof projects. Additionally, the project seeks to encourage and increase use of Chicagos public transit system, which enhances its impact on sustainability.

This money is key to moving the project forward, explains Ernie Constantino, an aide to Alderman Smith. It seems like a big barrier to putting in these green roofs is just the cost, he says. So that was our approach here: Lets just pay for the whole thing, make it a pilot, and then see where it takes us.

As a pilot, the Red Line Green Roofs Initiative will bring more to the city and the 48th Ward than just a demonstration in green roof technology. Alderman Smith sees the initiative as a way to enhance a neighborhood rich with historic locations including the Uptown Theatre, the Aragon, and the Bryn Mawr Historic District. The current plan is to place public art and historic markers along the green roof settings.

This piece of the red line is profoundly uninteresting; its blighted, and it could be so much more, Smith says. Thats our goal.

Multiple outcomes, one route

One of the most striking features of the Red Line Green Roofs Initiative is that on one hand, its objective is simple: make 50,000 square feet of rooftop green. On the other hand, however, its end goals are too numerous to count, and in many ways this is because the benefits of green spaces are so far-reaching.

Everyone hopes that it will help improve the use of public transportation and the experience of using it. Both Constantino and Smith point to University of Illinois studies establishing a relationship between green space and both well-being and crime reduction. Repkin notes that the city has made great strides in planting its streetscape, but that those using public transit walk from a pleasantly vegetated area up to a train platform overlooking a purely utilitarian sea of roofs.

We want to try to create green space so when people go up to the platform, theyre not seeing crusty, nasty cracked tar, theyre seeing buckwheat flowers and rye, he says.

For his part, Hampton also hopes this pilot project will push forward the practice of architecture itself. He would one day like to see that a buildings roof become as important a piece of the structural plan as any other. Once funding is secured, the next step will be seeing which buildings are viable for living roofsone of the key challenges in a retrofit. He and Repkin share the vision that one day living roofs will no longer be a late addition but instead built into the structures design from the beginning.

Hampton hopes that traveling along such a vast expanse of living roofs will help this idea take root. And though he might one day like to see building owners bragging to one another about how many tomatoes their rooftop garden produced in a year, right now hed just like to see people paying attention to the fact that a roof is a part of the structure too.

Hopefully this demonstrates the principle that you want to be thinking about the fifth faade of your building, he says. The fifth faade is that roof.


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