Last April the NYC Department of Environmental Protection's Green Infrastructure Office awarded $475,000 to a proposal by Pratt Institute's Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development, and part of the money will go towards building two new green pilot projects for its Brooklyn campus. One of the exciting new projects consists of expanded tree pits with bioswales and the second is a green roof atop North Hall, which houses classrooms and a cafeteria. The incorporation of real, hands-on green infrastructure projects into an educational, academic environment began this summer.
Starting in late May, Pratt graduate students in the green infrastructure design + build course began learning green roof and stormwater management techniques. Preliminary designs for the green roof were completed under the direction of professors Gita Nandan and Elliott Maltby, of the design firm Thread Collective. These proposals, along with preliminary site analyses, were presented to green roof installers/designers Highview Creations, Pratt’s Facilities Management group and other project team members just last week in a classroom overlooking the site. Student designs have challenged the original grant proposal by pushing the envelope and making a wide range of recommendations and ambitious interventions as part of the project. Some proposals include a variety of habitats, considering the project as an educational tool and testing ground for bold plant combinations and green roof technologies. Others have introduced inventive components, such as a waterfall between different roof levels, artificial rolling hills, and green screens shielding air conditioning and other roof equipment. A couple of proposal incorporate seemingly disparate stormwater management systems, marrying blue roofs and green roofs into one composite system.
During presentations to the rest of the project team, students were urged to consider budgetary, structural, maintenance, accessibility and other constraints in a quantitative manner in order to provide a final product that can fit seamlessly within the project’s real-world restrictions. The students now have a month to consolidate their proposals into a few realistic options, which Highview Creations and the rest of the design team will then merge into a set of drawings to submit to the DEP.