Fenway Farms

Weiser Hall

Weiser Hall

Ann Arbor, MI

Award Winner
Diamond Schmitt Architects

Project Team

Architect: Matthew Smith, Diamond Schmitt Architects
Building Envelope Engineer: Chris Van Dongen, Entuitive
Client: Robert Johnston, University of Michigan; Susan Monroe, University of Michigan
Contractor: John Durst, DeMaria
Cost Consultant: Riv Manning, Vermeulens
Electrical Engineer: Yilin Liu, Crossey Engineering Ltd
Green Wall Manufacturer: Alan Darlington, Nedlaw Living Walls
Lead Code Consultant: Joseph Plati, Code Consultants Professional Engineers, PC
Mechanical Engineer: Dominic Ponamte, Crossey Engineering Ltd
Structural Engineer: Karolina Jagielska, RJC Engineers

In transforming this ten-storey tower at University of Michigan for new academic purpose, we saw the opportunity to include four double-height living walls, each one above the next, as the central feature of community clusters that prominently anchor the building and overlook the campus
— Don Schmitt, Diamond Schmitt Architects

Creating a Dynamic Learning Environment for Interdisciplinary Study

The renovation of Weiser Hall repurposes the mid-century ten-storey tower, creating dynamic learning environments for interdisciplinary study and exchange. The renewed building now provides flexibility, daylight, and accessibility with highly sustainable design features.

Columns and ceilings were exposed enlarging open spaces and floors were uniquely configured to accommodate academic, social, and administrative use. Four double-height community commons are stacked at the southwest corner, each featuring biofilter living walls, serving as educational and botanical displays highlighting how biological systems can improve indoor environments.

The living walls provide air quality improvements, actively drawing air through the plant root systems relying on diverse microbial life to eliminate volatile organic compounds without the need for outdoor air ventilation. Plants provide transpiration cooling in the summer and humidification in the winter, further improving the building’s energy performance. Additionally, due to the orientation and sunny conditions, supplemental lighting systems were not required. The walls also have important roles in the acoustic environment of the space. Water trickling through the system generates biophilic sound, which has a great impact on the aesthetics of the space while the plant and rooting material, structurally similar to acoustic tiles, increase sound attenuation.

The inviting green feature provides a focal point for encounters and is symbolic of the sustainable design principles that are as much a part of the facility as providing a coherent and engaging academic environment.

Judges praised the project as an amazing adaptation of interior green wall technology on building renovation in highly visible setting as well as the highly technical implementation.

Fenway Farms

Fenway Farms

Boston, MA

Award Winner
Recover Green Roofs

Project Team

Client: Chris Knight, Fenway Park
Maintenance/Irrigation Technician: Richie Harvey, Recover Green Roofs
Membrane Installation/Warranty Fulfillment: Peter Chaffee, Chaffee Industrial Roofing
Project Manager: Mark Winterer, Recover Green Roofs
Turf Consultant: Scott Koesterich, New England Turf Store

The beauty in this design is its simplicity. Our goal was to maximize every inch of space on MLB’s oldest park, so we created a modular raised-bed system using square milk crates that fit into perfect rows. The recycled plastic shells provide structure for attaching farm components and are easy to move away from snowdrift-prone areas after the final harvest. We used responsibly-sourced organic potting soil, fabric liners that promote rapid root growth, and an on-demand smart irrigation system that distributes water directly to each plant’s roots. A turf layer protects the waterproof membrane and provides a durable surface for the farmers at Green City Growers who harvest over 5,000 pounds of organic vegetables annually.
— Mark Winterer, Recover Green Roofs

Inspiring the Sports Community to Celebrate Healthy

Linda Henry, wife of Red-Sox owner, John Henry, wanted to support urban agriculture and provide a healthy-food alternative to the standard hot-dog-and-hamburger fare that Fenway has traditionally offered. 

Gate A is located on the corner of Yawkey Way and Brookline Street, and for 100 years, the backside of the third baseline stadium looked down on Gate A's hot roof and air-handling equipment. On April 13th 2015, Opening Day, fans looked down on a sprawling 5,000-square foot rooftop farm. Peppers, kale, and tomatoes replaced black rubber and grey metal; tens of thousands of onlookers couldn't believe what they saw. It has since become the most popular stop on the Fenway-Park tour, and the Huffington Post ranked it the number one great secret spot in Boston.

In order to prevent the soil from blowing off the roof, we used milk crate-planters lined with fabric pots to hold the soil up on the roof. The milk crate square shape maximizes every inch of limited roof space and provides structural support for irrigation lines, trellising, and low tunnels without penetrating the membrane. Drip emitters distribute water directly to the roots and eliminate runoff. GCG harvested over 4,800lbs in 2015, and Fenway contracted planting of the adjacent roof in 2016.

The mission of this project was to inspire the Red Sox community in Boston, New England and beyond, to celebrate health; individually, inspiring healthy daily choices and together, inspiring us to imagine what is possible to bring about healthier communities. With 2.9 million visitors each year, over 5,000 pounds of fresh food harvested each year, and Michelle Obama taking note: “six years ago, I don't think any of us could have imagined that Fenway Park would have a 5,000-square-foot farm on its rooftop to provide fresh produce for its fans;”. Judges praised the project’s ability to connect green roof technology with new audiences, and exceeding typical expectations for sports and commercial institutions.