Green roofs have many well documented benefits. They can make a co-op or condo building more attractive to potential buyers. They can turn a tar-paper desert into a welcoming oasis. And in the bargain they protect the roof membrane, absorb carbon dioxide, emit oxygen, and control rainwater runoff.
And now for yet another benefit: a green roof can be a source of food for the building’s residents.
Unit-owners in the 18-story condominium building at 550 Vanderbilt Avenue near Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn will be able to sign up for individual plots in a 1,600-square-foot farm on a south-facing terrace of the building’s eighth floor, the Wall Street Journal reports. Crews are currently erecting three metal boxes and filling them with soil, a patch of which has already been staked out by Ian Rothman, a farmer and co-owner of Olmstead, a nearby farm-to-table restaurant.
“We plan to develop a substantial amount of our space to peppers,” Rothman says. It will augment the restaurant’s modest rear yard, where he grows garlic, radishes, herbs, and edible flowers.
The idea for the 550 Vanderbilt Avenue farm came from the building’s designers, COOKFOX Architects. The firm follows a principle it calls “biophilic design,” or the creation of spaces that promote human well being by enhancing the connection between people and nature, says architect Brandon Specketer, who worked on the building. The building includes decorative boxes on many windows that will be filled with native plants and flowers. Greenery will spill over the top of the raw concrete entrance to the building. The building also will include piped-in fresh air, and a skylight and glass walls on stairs to encourage walking.
The farm on the south-facing terrace will have sunshine virtually unobstructed by the low-rise neighborhood to the south. “As a general rule,” Rothman says, “the more sun, the more vegetables you’re going to get.”
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