Industry-leading landscape and snow services company installs experimental space for researchers at University of Texas at Austin
The Dell Medical School at the University of Texas is a building dedicated to the advancement of scientific knowledge. That noble purpose now extends to – of all places – its roof. BrightView Landscape Development collaborated with Hensel Phelps Construction, Sasaki Associates and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to install a 17,000-square-foot green roof above the sixth floor.
In addition to its aesthetic and environmental benefits, the roof serves as an experimental space for researchers at the Wildflower Center to evaluate materials and methods used on the project through site visits and sensors to monitor the roof’s performance.
The green roof is made up of 7,000 individual plants, 500 cubic yards of lightweight soil, and a gravel perimeter for drainage. BrightView’s team assembled 600-pound sections of pre-cast curbing to create raised beds with varying depths to accommodate plants with larger root systems. These beds and materials were hoisted by crane and a custom tractor lift attachment was used to move materials on the roof.
“We partnered with Hensel Phelps and were able to use their crane after hours and on weekends to lift our materials,” said John Faske, Assistant Branch Manager at BrightView Development.
The plan was designed with both aesthetics and function in mind by considering the appropriate spacing needed for the full-size of each plant species. The team used colored irrigation flags to map out planting patterns in 5-by-5-foot grids that each contained six to seven plant varieties. Wildflower seeding was performed afterwards to enhance the plantings.
"The green roof provides great scenery from higher floors of the building as well as energy benefits and a living laboratory for researchers,” said Jeff Lennon, Senior Vice President at BrightView. “Our team has also installed green roofs in Dallas and San Antonio and is thrilled to see a demand for these projects across the state.”
BrightView recently completed a similar project at another University of Texas campus and has four other projects in the works including the installation of balcony plantings at Rowling Hall in the next few months. The green roof at the Dell Medical School has been submitted for a TEIL Award from the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association.
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