INTENSIVE INSTITUTIONAL GREEN ROOF AWARD
Project: Helen Schuler Nature Centre (2,200 square foot green roof)
Location: Lethbridge, AB
Award Winner: O2 Planning + Design Inc
Landscape Architect/Green Roof Practicioner/Irrigation Design: O2 Planning + Design Inc
Client/Program Design: Helen Schuler Nature Centre
Native Plant Ecologist: Eastern Slopes Rangeland
Structural Engineer: BEI Engineer
“We saw the potential of the green roofs in providing endless opportunities for programming and education for our community. We imagined them as living classrooms and natural gathering spaces for our visitors. We knew they could demonstrate better ways of landscaping and inspire best practices for urban development. Every day we see new ways in which our visitors experience these spaces and learn from them. It is something that our community is very proud of. ”
Coreen Putman, Helen Schuler Nature Centre Coordinator
Versatility & Adaptability in an Unlikely Climate
Helen Schuler Nature Centre (HSNC) is an urban nature centre located in Lethbridge, Alberta with the goal of delivering diverse and dynamic interpretive nature programs through a team of volunteers, staff and partners. As part of HSNC’s expansion and renovation, roof gardens were constructed with the goal of creating a demonstration area for delivering interpretive programs and providing a living classroom for visitors.
While experiencing the living roofs, visitors are encouraged to learn about the versatility and adaptability of native plants, local ecology, plant pollination and intensive and extensive living roof systems. Due to Lethbridge’s harsh, arid climate, it was important to provide a demonstration area for alternatives to traditional, water consumptive landscaping approaches. To maximize biodiversity on the roof, the design team and client developed a species list of 65 native species of perennial forbs and grasses for the intensive living roof. The extensive living roof species list comprised 27 species of sedum and seven species of forbs and grasses. A secondary benefit of developing the rich plant list was the ability to evaluate the suitability of a multitude of untested native species on the roof in one of Alberta’s most arid environments.
While aesthetic considerations were secondary to the project’s environmental and educational goals, visitors are overcome by the beauty of the living roofs, and leave with a greater appreciation of the prairie landscape.