New York, NY, USA
CLIENT Earth Pledge Foundation / STATUS Completed 2002 / SIZE 975 SF / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Licalzi Consulting Engineers, Mark Licalzi / MGA Architecture, Walter Radtke
The construction of the Earth Pledge (EP) Kitchen Garden green roof inspired Earth Pledge, a New York City not- for profit, to embark on the Green Roofs Initiative, its ongoing project to facilitate green roof development in New York City as an ecologically sound and economically viable solution to urban and environmental problems.
In 1998 Earth Pledge renovated a 1902 Georgian Townhouse to serve both as their office showcase for sustainable materials and technologies. Over 70 companies contributed. Diana Balmori, principal of the landscape design firm Balmori Associates proposed a green roof system atop the new Workspace project. An avid gardener, Earth Pledge’s Executive Director, Leslie Hoffman, immediately adopted the idea, seeing it as a beautiful means of dovetailing the organization’s two central programs of Sustainable Agriculture and Cuisine and Sustainable Architecture and Design.
Earth Pledge and Diana Balmori partnered to design the roof to suit EP’s needs. Balmori designed the roof to highlight the wide variety of plant life available for green roofs, including native flowers and vegetables. The design exploited the unexpected juxtaposition of its midtown Manhattan locale with the principles of organic gardening. Herbs and flowers were planted in parapet planter boxes around the perimeter of the roof to increase the amount of growing area.
Since its initial design and construction, the Kitchen Garden has evolved to reflect EP’s diverse interests. The northern plot remains devoted to annual vegetables, including heirloom tomatoes and eggplants, and perennials such as beebalm, lavender and sage, taking advantage of its “semi-intensive” depth of 8-12” of substrate. The southern plot, with a depth of 2-4” of growing medium, has been converted to a more typical “roof meadow” style green roof, featuring several varieties of sedum. This “extensive” portion of the roof is a model for the kind of low-maintenance green roof infrastructure that the Green Roofs Initiative facilitates and promotes. Meanwhile, the northern garden plot continues to demonstrate horticultural possibilities for stronger roof structures in New York City.
The Earth Pledge green roof embodies the basic principles behind the Green Roof Initiative: that it is possible to create sustainable, beautiful solutions to pressing urban problems. As New York City becomes a center for green roof development, the Earth Pledge roof will continue to evolve and thrive.