McArthur McCollum Building Rooftop Meadow

McArthur/McCollum Building Rooftop Meadow

McArthur/McCollum Building Rooftop Meadow

Boston, MA

Award Winner
Recover Green Roofs
Omni Ecosystems

Project Team

Bee Keeper: Noah Wilson-Rich, Best Bees Company
Client: Julia Musso, Harvard Business School
Designer & Green Roof Installer: Richie Harvey, Recover Green Roofs; Brendan Shea, Recover Green Roofs
Designer & System Manufacturer: Molly Meyer, Omni Ecosystems; Jessica Bourque, Omni Ecosystems
Waterproofing Installer: John Marcone, Gilbert & Becker Co
Waterproofing Manufacturer: Paul Muller, Sika Sarnafil

We hope this self-regenerating roof ecosystem causes people to take pause and reconsider their relationship to the built environment, particularly when they see “rooftop-foraged daikon radishes” on the Harvard dining services menu.
— Molly Meyer, Omni Ecosystems

A Self-Regenerating Roof Ecosystem Along The Charles River

Across seven sections of a multi-tiered roof on Harvard Business School’s McArthur/McCollum building stretches an 11,000 ft2 extensive meadow. The design team searched for an innovative solution that would be light enough to satisfy weight restrictions for the building while showcasing a highly visible and structurally complex roof. The McArthur/McCollum rooftop meadow is the first of its kind in the region.

With an ultra-light media blend that allows for a diverse plant palette capable of growing a huge variety of native species, the meadow is designed to be self-regenerating throughout the years. The plant design takes inspiration from the adjacent Charles River ecosystem and the meadow seed mix unifies the seven roofs while distinct clusters of perennials create distinctive patterning. Honeybee hives are monitored for local pollinator data and a creative irrigation plan secured the seeded media during establishment.

During installation, extreme care was given to the salvage and reuse of building materials, as well as an existing extensive sedum green roof system and maintain the existing heritage structure.

The project challenges people to reconsider their relationship to the built environment, changing the paradigm of what a building is capable of, especially when they see “rooftop-foraged daikon radishes” on the menu in the Harvard Dining Hall.

Judges praised this project for its scale, plant palette, and integration into the local ecology, as well as overall water quality enhancement strategy for the Charles River. They also found it to be an excellent application of green roof technology on an existing educational structure.