Session 26 // Designing Green Infrastructure for Biodiversity

Registration Eligibility
No Prerequisite Required
Start Date
End Date
1) Urban Animals: Designing Green Roofs for Ecology
In addition to building and operating rooftop farms, Brooklyn Grange has designed and built several green roofs over the past five years that are geared towards supporting local ecology, particularly birds and arthropods. In 2016, the Brooklyn Grange Design/Build team embarked upon a collaboration with the Environmental Studies program at the New School, which has since evolved into a multi-semester course. The course has focused on observing the ecological benefits of an existing green roof, at Vice Media's headquarters in Brooklyn, where students have monitored and assessed the activities of a wide range of bird and insect species, as well as documented planned and volunteer plant growth. The outcome of the class has been the creation of reports, a guide, and a digital presence, as well as proposed design interventions to promote increase ecological support on this and future green roofs. Brooklyn Grange proposes giving a 30 minute talk at this year's Cities Alive conference to share the findings of this class and speak about the larger New York City green roof ecology movement, which is happening across various locations with the participation of numerous academic and industry players.

2) Dispersing Seeds: The Hidden Talent of Living Architecture
Raising expectations for living architecture performance comes from asking unconventional questions: Can we design vegetative roofs to be a source ecosystem of native species that can restore the city landscape? Can we envision something beyond a place preserving the last fragile populations, but a place that incubates the native, rare, and threatened populations with an unprecedented urban fitness? When questions such as this are asked by designers, we discover the greater potential of living architecture. The M6B2 Tower of Biodiversity (by Edouard François) opened in 2016 with the lofty goal of reseeding Paris, France. The speculative living façade lays the foundation for a novel urban ecological approach based on plant dispersal. Fortunately for M6B2, this concept is shown to be viable in a tiny green project at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, (Ohio, U.S.A). Installed in 2003, a landscape architect/ecologist at Holden Arboretum conceptualized a one-of-a-kind roof for plant nativity that disperses native seeds to the ground below. When not self-seeding, the roof grows hearty local plants that are preferred stock for urban site restoration projects. Learn how biological dispersal is creating innovation and shaping design conceptualizations to link site, city, landscape, and region.

3) Wild bees at home on the High Line
From April-September 2017 we conducted a survey of the wild bees at the High Line, the 1.5 mile elevated freight line turned park, on the west side of Manhattan. The 20+ species collected include both native and non-native individuals and represent a community that is unique to an urban greenspace with the High Line’s specific bee resource availability. The variety of species have distinctions in their natural histories including what flowers they collect nectar and pollen from, what part of the season they are active, and where they make their nests. Bumble bees, for example, nest in cavities in the ground while carpenter bees excavate nests out of solid wood. We will also examine some of the non-native species and learn about when they came to New York City and where they are from. The survey results alongside the specific natural histories inform a conversation about gardening to support wild bees as well a
New York City, NY
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Green Roofs
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
1) • To identify the types of animals that are using green roofs for forage, shelter and/or nesting in NYC
• To review current research and design that is addressing green roof ecology
• To discuss potential design interventions that will improve the ecological performance of new and existing green roofs

2) • Knowledge of plants that self-seed in green roofs
• Understanding of dispersal to ground conditions in 10 year old roof
• Awareness of contemporary biodiversity roof projects

3) • Familiarize participants with the wild bee species that live at the High Line.
• Explain the resource needs of wild bees.
• Explore the variety of ways in which different species meet those needs.
• Determine some ways that we can support wild bee populations in managed urban areas

4) • Why local context is important for maximising the biodiversity benefits of green roofs
• How to achieve locally-contextualised habitats on green roofs
• What biodiversity benefits have been achieved through locally-contextualised green roof design
1) Gwen Schantz - Brooklyn GrangeCecilia de Corral - Brooklyn Grange2) Reid Coffman - Kent State University 3) Sarah Kornbluth - American Museum of Natural HistoryCorey Smith - American Museum of Natural HistoryMaryanne Stubbs -The High LineNicole
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Course Codes
Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

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