To help celebrate the opening of its new location, Chicago’s Hyde Park Art Center, designed by Doug Garofalo, asked area artists to create new work for the community to enjoy. One of the projects that has garnered considerable attention-including a visit by the city’s Mayor, Richard M. Daley-is the building’s Green roof.
“It’s an art project, called Bullseye,” says Allison Peters, the Center’s Director of Exhibitions. “It was created by local artist Stuart Keeler, in collaboration with Weston SolutionsR, Inc., GreenGridR Green Roof System, and Midwest Groundcovers.”
According to Peters, it is part of the Center’s attempt to operate in a more sustainable manner and show the community how this can be accomplished. A Green roof involves the placing of low-maintenance, hearty sedum (vegetation) into four inches of soil on top of the existing roof.
The Center installed a modular Green roof system. With a modular system, the Green roof is assembled at a nursery and planted into modules made of 60% recycled plastic. The modules are then laid out atop the building’s existing roof. This system tends to be more cost effective and faster to install. In fact, the center’s Green roof only took 14 hours to install. Once in place, Green roofs can help lower heating and cooling energy costs, quiet a facility, reduce storm water runoff, produce oxygen, and provide a retreat for birds and butterflies, especially in urban settings.
The artist first saw Green roofs while working in Germany. “From my studio, I could see several Green roofs on nearby buildings,” he says. “Viewing them was pleasing and inspiring.”
Keeler says the Green roof as art was created to make a statement about sustainability and protecting the environment. “One of my goals with my art is to be a social catalyst-helping people see that architecture, buildings, and science can all work together to protect our planet.”