Metropolis magazine highlighted a new form of green roof: the forested roof. In Manhattan, on top of a building designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, NY-based landscape architect, Thomas Balsley, FASLA, designed a “a monoculture of evergreens that emulates northern forests.” Metropolis writes that Balsley’s designs are “undulating stands of Austrian pines [that] deliberately avoid the usual sedum carpets and overly manicured containers of roof greenery.”
Balsley said to Metropolis that a forest roof wasn’t what the client initially had in mind: “The developer asked me to design a roof garden, but when I heard about his love of art and the architect’s commitment to Modern design, I decided to look past doing a busy roof garden.” The forest has added value to the property, and apartments with views of the trees are viewed as more valuable. “All residents have access to the tree-covered roof, but the views it creates became a major selling point for the high-end condos, which helped to justify the installation costs.”
The roof landscape includes more than a hundred 25-to-35-tall trees set in mounds of earth hidden by shrubs. Each tree sits in a four-and-a-half-foot-deep soil bed, which are designed to hold the deep root systems. (The soil beds for these trees are much deeper than those for more conventional green roofs). “In addition to the standard benefits of storm-water retention and insulation for the building, the trees improve air quality.” The trees may eventually reach 60-feet high.
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Image credit: Shigeo Kawasaki / Thomas Balsley Associates