On The Roof With Eco-Architect Roger Schickedantz on Twenty Years of Innovative Green Roof Design

As part of our celebration of 20 years of publishing the LAM, we’ve asked a number of experts to share with us their thoughts on the development of the green roof and wall industry throughout the year. This edition of On the Roof With is pleased to feature Roger Schickedantz, AIA, LEED AP, BD + C, GRP, Director, William McDonough + Partners an early adopter of green roofs in North America with projects all over North America and around the world. Roger was instrumental in the early days of the green roof industry by providing his expertise during the development of the Green Roof Professional (GRP) training courses and manuals. Here he shares the accumulated wisdom of more than twenty years of experience of designing award winning and iconic green roof projects.

LAM: What do you think are the major changes in the industry that have taken place over the past twenty years, from a designer perspective?

RS: Twenty years is a long time in the North American green roof industry and it is amazing how much has changed. William McDonough + Partner’s first green roof was the 901 Cherry building in Silicon Valley (built for The Gap, now YouTube’s headquarters) installed in 1997. It consisted of 6” of growing medium, intended to reproduce the habitat of the ground plane replaced by the building. We relied on the expertise of Paul Kephart for a native prairie grass meadow. At the time, the concept of extensive green roofs remained largely undiscovered in the Western Hemisphere - although quite common in places like Germany. The idea of doing any kind of green roof was novel in the late 90’s and many building professionals were skeptical that it should be attempted at all.

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