2008 Award-Winning Green Roofs and Walls


The Green Roofs for Healthy Cities convention in Baltimore ended with the Awards of Excellence, with seven categories of roof and wall. Green walls are growing like mad, probably because they are visible where a green roof often isn't. Randy Sharp's living wall at the Vancouver Aquarium won for Green Wall Design. It is a modular system that gives new meaning to the phrase "plug-and-pray"- fifteen plant species were tested to find eight that were local and hardy enough to withstand the freeze-thaw cycle. It has an automatic drip-irrigation system using stored rainwater.


close-up, Vancouver wall
Project: Vancouver Aquarium
Award Recipient: Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture Inc.
Client: Vancouver Aquarium
Design Architect: Stantec Architecture
Supplier: G-Sky Inc.
Mechanical Engineer: Colbalt Engineering


Green roofs can be heavy, and are usually installed on new buildings that are designed to take the load. The TWA Corporate Headquarters Building, in Kansas City, Missouri, is a 1956 vintage historic modernist building that had a flat black roof. It now has a 25,000 square foot green roof, or perhaps more accurately, a brown roof, as it is designed to be "an elevated urban prairie, incorporating native grasses and wildflower varieties (considered very challenging in such shallow soils) into a backdrop created by four Sedum varieties. The winter season "view" was also taken into consideration; in the winter, Sedums turn red or gold, depending on the species, and compliment the reddish brown stalks of Little Bluestem."


Project: TWA Corporate Headquarters Building
Award Recipient: el dorado inc.
Client: TWA Lofts, LLC
Landscape Designer: Off the Grid
Irrigation Design: Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company
Technical Consulting: American Hydrotech, Inc.
Structural Engineering: Norton & Schmidt
MEP engineering: Lankford and Associates


Bonnie reviewed Renzo Piano's California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco earlier; marvelling at "what a natural phenomenon it is. Located in famous Golden Gate Park, and housing an aquarium, planetarium, and natural-history museum under two "hills" which are really a two-and-a-half-acre "living roof", the building looks like a part of the park from some views."

Mimicking the hills of nearby Twin Peaks, the roof has four undulating, steeply sloped domed structures. This however presented design challenges for the installation of the plants. In order to solve the technical challenges, Rana Creek worked with the design team to develop a built-up green roof system with stacked benefits. The key to this process was the BioTray®, a biodegradable, reinforced, modular propagation tray made from rapidly renewable coconut coir fibers. This tray provided water retention for the plants and helped to hold the growing medium in place during plant establishment. Contract-grown by Rana Creek's Wholesale Nursery, the BioTrays® encourage plant growth from the use of a mycorrhizal biological inoculum that facilitates nutrient uptake and helps roots to grow through the tray providing further stabilization.


Project: California Academy of Sciences
Award Recipient: Rana Creek Living Architecture
Client: California Academy of Sciences
Design Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Project Architect: Stantec Architecture (formerly Chong Partners Architecture)
Landscape Architect: SWA Group
Engineer: Arup
Implementation-Building Team: Webcor Builders
Implementation-Landscape Contractors: Jensen Corporation Landscape Contractors
Materials Supplier: American Hydrotech, Inc.

See all the winners at ::Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

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