Although the projects are somewhat unrealistic in these initial stages, and go beyond the scope of the grant awards, the academic setting gives students the possibility to experiment beyond the usual manifestations of a government grant proposal design. This infusion of creativity is necessary to make the most out of this opportunity, emphasizing Pratt Institute’s standing as a cutting-edge arts and design institution. As highlighted during the design review, a continued commitment to engaging various departments of the Institute during and after the design stage is essential in making this project stand out. Coordination with various departments of the school can include design charrettes for signage and community participation programs, competitions and programs to create art and visualizations based on stormwater and ecological monitoring data from the roof, and the creation of a student “green infrastructure steward” fellowship position. These stewards will be tasked with the maintenance and management of monitoring data for the green roof during the first 3 years after completion, eventually handing off maintenance duties to facilities managers.
The intent of Pratt’s initiative is to provide a green infrastructure program at the Institute that incorporates student and public education, community involvement, innovative technologies in green roof design and monitoring, and improvement in the stormwater performance and appearance of the physical campus. By building upon the basic requirements of the winning DEP Green Infrastructure Grant proposal, this summer’s students have elevated the discussion beyond what is required of the project, and shown what is possible. As a result of the project’s immersion within the academic arena, Pratt Institute’s green roof will likely include innovative features that would have otherwise been passed by in order to comply with the restrictions of the grant proposal. This project shows the power of collaborations between the academic and professional spheres, as well as between disciplines, in new fields such as green infrastructure and stormwater management. Fresh ideas and minds must be a part of any new process, and it is in academic institutions and young, effervescent minds that we find the most forward-thinking manifestations of our sustainable future.