Extensive Industrial/Commercial

Rooftop Wheat Prairie

Rooftop Wheat Prarie

Chicago, IL

Award Winner
Omni Ecosystems

Project Team

General Contractor: Bulley & Andrews
Green Roof Designer, Manufacturer, Installer: Omni Ecosystems
Landscape Architect: Studio Gang Architects
Owners Representative: Daccord LLC
Wheat Farming & Processing: The Roof Crop LLC

The unassuming star of this project was the prolific crop of winter wheat which matured into an edible, harvestable grain. The amber waves created a unique pastoral aesthetic for the client, protected the underlying prairie from wind damage, and tasted delicious when milled into pastry flour and baked into cookies.
— Molly Meyer, Omni Ecosystems
With more than fifty species planted on top of a historic building, our mini prairie functions more as a thriving ecosystem than a green roof, creating food and habitat for birds, butterflies, insects, fungi, and now people.
— Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang
Daccord had the pleasure of working with Omni Ecosystems again on this project, and as with our past experience, they did an excellent job showing responsiveness, quality and most importantly creativity. We congratulate them for this award and a job very well done.
— Len Skiba, Daccord LLC

Chicago’s Amber Waves of Grain

The Chicago Wheat Prairie is a unique, picturesque landscape growing three stories above a bustling Chicago intersection.

The Chicago Wheat Prairie is a complete anomaly in aesthetics and general design. It’s the only rooftop in the city growing amber waves of grain. The golden wheat accented by bright wildflowers offers city dwellers a one-of-a-kind visual splendor. To immerse visitors into the wheat prairie, a room of floor-to-ceiling glass windows was constructed in the middle of the roof, offering incredible views from all angles.

In designing this roof, a team of architects and ecologists sowed a crop of red winter wheat into a 4,700-square-foot, 5-inch rooftop prairie. The grain’s purpose was threefold: creating a singular pastoral aesthetic for the client, one that mirrored the Midwestern landscape; providing wind protection for cover crops and wildflowers also growing in the meadow; and determining the extent to which green roofs could address food security issues in urban landscapes vis-a-vis cereal grain production. The proof-of-concept research conducted at this site resulted in the first-known rooftop wheat harvest, which produced 66 pounds of high-quality whole wheat pastry flour from a hyperlocal source, create employment opportunities along the way, and provided a working model for urban grain production.

With more cities incentivizing green roofs, this project takes important steps in shaping the future of urban landscapes. It lays important groundwork for creating a city where rooftops are no longer passive landscapes but spaces for discovery, productivity and resiliency. Judges praised the project for its interesting mixture of agriculture and ecology.


Alberta Ecoroof Initiative

Alberta Eco-Roof Initiative

Calgary, AB

Award Winner
Green T Design

Designer: Kerry Ross, GRP, Green T Design
Designer: Bob Thornton, Studio T Design
Supplier: Marie-Anne Boivin, Soprema
Supplier: Trevor Sziva, Soprema
Contractor: Stephen Teal, GRP, Flynn Canada
Building Owner: Neil Ubi, Innovate Calgary
Building Owner: Dave MacKillop, Innovate Calgary

The Alberta Ecoroof Initiative project is the green roof that I have worked most with. It has evolved over time and my understanding of its characteristics and benefits has grown. I intentionally call it an ecoroof because it is not green all of the time; the changes in the colours, the varying blend of plant species over the seasons and the habitat it created has been an interesting wonder to observe.
— Kerry Ross, GRP, Green T Design

A Showpiece of Research and Function

An organization and building that houses a mixture of tech start-ups and likens itself to an ecosystem sprouts green roof habitat to deliver ecosystem services. The project serves as a key component to Innovate Calgary's commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, but also serves as an example of clean technology. The green roof provides a tangible example to educate staff and visitors and it acts as a tangible resource for peers in the field of living architecture.

It was ten years ago this summer that the first phase of planting was undertaken on top of the link building that connects two wings of the Alastair Ross Technology Center in the University of Calgary Research Park.

This project distinguishes itself from other green roof projects as being the only known green roof in Alberta to feature different systems side by side, varying by type and depth of growing medium, and plant species selection. In addition to the various systems trialed here, a two year stormwater study was performed which demonstrated the effectiveness of green roofs to retain runoff.

By using a variety of planting systems and monitoring their progress, we have been identifying types of systems and species that thrive in the Calgary climatic region, noting successful outcomes as well as shortcomings. The installations serve as a green roof botanical garden.

Credit: Bob Thornton

Credit: Bob Thornton

Berry Architecture Office

Berry Architecture Office

Red Deer, AB

Award Winner
Berry Architecture + Associates

Architect & LEED Consultant: Berry Architecture + Associates
Landscape Designer: Living Lands Landscape & Design
Mechanical Engineer: Reinbold Engineering
General Contractor: Shunda Consulting & Construction
Electrical Engineer: Acuity Engineering & Consulting Service Ltd

Doing what was right for the environment was the first goal of this redevelopment project for Berry Architecture & Associates. We wanted to create a pleasant oasis for our staff and our clients where they could be surrounded by a little bit of nature in a downtown urban setting.
— George Berry, Owner, CEO, Berry Architecture + Associates

A Little Bit of Nature in a Downtown Urban Setting

Completed in 2011, the Berry Architecture + Downey Roth Hrywkiw Fidek LLP building was a complete revitalization and modernization of a run-down 1950’s bowling alley in downtown Red Deer, Alberta. The green roof, planted in 2012, enhances this downtown neighborhood both aesthetically and environmentally adding a variety of flowering plants and grasses to the area including canada buffalo -berry, prairie onion, wild flax, and wild bergamot.

Students cultivate vegetables and herbs from seed in the greenhouse that are transplanted into raised planting beds. With the help of teachers and parent volunteers the students at P.S. 6 Eco-Center grow fruits, vegetables and herbs for the school cafeteria's salad bar. They collaborate with the cafeteria staff to develop recipes for the produce grown on the roof.

A unique feature of the green roof is the flowing stream which provides habitat and support for birds and insects. Staff and clients enjoy the pleasant setting of this natural retreat through a variety of social events including barbeques and green roof parties, as well as meetings and lunch time gatherings. Three raised planters provide fresh herbs and vegetables for the staff who take turns caring for the gardens. The gardens and stream are watered exclusively through the grey water system. Stormwater is collected in holding tanks located in the mechanical room on the main floor. That stormwater is then used to water the garden planters, refill the stream as needed, and even provide water to on-site toilets. All non-vegetable plants are indigenous species which do not require watering. Since the renovation, the runoff discharge rate and quantity values have decreased by more than 25%.

One goal of the green roof was creating a bio-diverse habitat for wildlife with an emphasis on indigenous pollinators by providing food with a wide range of indigenous plant species, as well as flowing water and perching and nesting sites. Other goals were to decrease the impact of rainwater run-off on the municipal water system and to improve the air quality of the urban environment by installing the roof on a formerly plant-free site.

Midtown High Rise

Midtown High Rise Green Roof

New York, NY

Award Winner
New York Green Roofs

Landscape Architect: HMWhite
Architects: Gertler & Wente
Structural & Wind Load Engineers: Urban Tech
Membrane Manufacturer: Kemper System
Lighting Designer: Atelier Lumiere
Carpentry: Riverside Builders

This project was carefully engineered to knit with the building’s infrastructure, to prevent potential wind uplift, accommodate significant weight restrictions, and support a sophisticated, multiseasonal plant palette tolerant of extreme growing conditions. Its primary role as an amenity space for a thriving corporation, combined with its positive ecological impact, redefines what is possible when creating a contemporary terrace garden in a dense urban environment.
— Amy Falder, Partner, New York Green Roofs

A Green Respite for Manhattan Office Workers

Transforming a corporate office building into a lush green oasis in midtown Manhattan, this vegetated roof offers staff of a booming realty company an unusually peaceful respite amidst the constant movement of a bustling city. 7,000 square feet of living roof and integrated decking establishes a buffer between a busy officespace and one of the densest urban environments on the planet. The design provides a visual on ecological succession of a changing landscape as it incorporates a mostly extensive mix of meadow grasses, flowering perennials, and low growing succulents. Observation of seasonal progression is enhanced with a few flowering trees and spring blooming bulbs.

The irrigation design incorporates advanced water conservation practices and technologies keeping the water below the surface of the vegetated roof so that evaporation, wind overspray and mist or surface run-off is mitigated. Water is applied directly to the plant's root zone, where it is most efficiently available for uptake by plant roots.

The project is a wrap-around terrace that exists outside of an owner-occupied commercial office space - all of the employees have views of the vegetated roof from their office windows and access to the green roof for use at their leisure. Staff members are allowed to visit any area of the roof and may choose to lounge on any of the floating decks, each of which is connected via stepping stones that meander through the vegetation. This rolling meadow exists in stark contrast to the pedestal paver hardscapes that exist on the terraces below and above, and it creates a visual landmark that is viewed by thousands of tenants occupying nearby high rises lining 3rd avenue. Located 17 stories above the street in an urban canyon of Midtown Manhattan, the project design accommodated the extreme growing conditions of its surroundings in a windy, concrete and glass jungle. It is anticipated that the roof will not only enhance the experience of its users for years to come, but will also serve as a representation for progressive ecological design in the built-environment, reflecting what we can do make our cities more liveable, efficient, and sustainable.