Designing our Future: Sustainable LandscapesRooftop Haven for Urban AgricultureChicago, Illinois, U.S.A.In a neighborhood with little access to safe outdoor by scenic views of color and texture that embody theenvironments, the Gary Comer Youth Center Roof Garden working garden. Recycled plastic barriers separate plantserves as an urban farm and after-school learning space beds and form pathways within the garden that alignfor community youths and seniors. Located in Chicago’s with the courtyard garden’s window frames. CircularGrand Crossing neighborhood, the 8,160-square-foot metal elements scattered throughout the gardengreen roof sits atop of a state-of-the art youth learning bring artistic expression to the landscape, while alsocenter that offers a range of extracurricular activities functioning as skylights that bring natural illuminationand classes for the community’s school children. Given to the building’s gymnasium and café below.its urban location, the rooftop garden provides a rare Adding to the environmental sustainability of the site, theopportunity for students to engage in horticultural green roof absorbs rainwater rather than diverting it tolearning and food production while gaining awareness city storm sewers. This helps to reduce water pollutionand appreciation for nutrition and the environment. As and the likelihood of urban flooding. In addition, thethey become entwined with the planting, growing, and landscape architect’s minimal use of concrete andharvesting process, students’ lifestyles become ingrained other heat-conducting building materials has led towith healthy eating habits. Students become anxious to lower temperatures on the green roof compared tosample the fresh fruits and vegetables they help grow. those on the street. The cooler microclimate makesThe Gary Comer Youth Center Roof Garden is a model the roof a haven from the harsh, summer heat.for urban agriculture, making use of traditionallyunderutilized space to farm organic fruits and vegetablesthat supply the surrounding community with fresh, Project Resourceslocally-grown, organic produce. Each year, the gardenproduces more than 1,000 pounds of organic food. Landscape ArchitectThe crops include spinach, turnips, potatoes, carrots, Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects Peter Lindsay Schaudt, FASLA, Partnercabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, and strawberries. The fruits,vegetables, and herbs are used for the Center’s cooking Architectclasses and for the daily meal preparation that helps feed John Ronan Architectmore than 175 students at the center’s café. In addition, John Ronan, Principalseasonal produce grown on the roof is often purchased Structural Engineerby local restaurants seeking the freshest ingredients. Arup Nancy Hamilton, PrincipalLocated on the second floor above the center’sgymnasium and café, the garden’s 24-inch soil depth Garden Managerprovides insulation for the rooms below, helping to lower Gary Comer Youth Center Marjorie Hess, Garden Managerenergy costs associated with heating and cooling. Irrigation DesignThe garden is encircled by a two-story ring of classrooms ICONand hallways fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows. Eric DavisStudents circulating inside the building are inspired
Designing our Future: Sustainable LandscapesRooftop Haven for Urban Agriculture Project Resources Cont. Landscape Contractor Walsh Landscape Construction, Inc. General Contractor W.E. O’Neil Construction Co.