company logo 4a
  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
     Monthly Newsletter
May 2010
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: Designing a Green Roof

Architectural Firm of the Month: Barreto/Dowd

Helpful Links for Architects

Join Our Mailing List!



Need Samples? Visit our Sample Request page.

Find us on Facebook

Devonian Stone Chatham Bars Inn Welcome to the May issue of our newsletter! If you have a project you would like to share with us, please contact us and tell us about it. If chosen, we will feature your project in one of our upcoming issues, which goes out to architects and building industry professionals across the country. Click here to find out more about us, or visit us on our new Facebook Fan Page.

Architectural Firm of the Month: Barreto/Dowd

Essex County CourthouseBarreto/Dowd is a professional firm located in Howell, NJ that has been providing Landscape Architecture, Site Planning, and Urban Design services since 1985. Creating an environment that is uplifting to the human spirit while satisfying program requirements and site constraints is the primary goal of Barreto/Dowd. The principals strive for a collaborative effort between the firm and it's clients early in the planning stages. Employing the firm's expertise, with creativity as a guiding principal, maximizes the potential of developing a setting with the highest visual and functional qualities. 

The broad range of assignments undertaken in both public and private sectors cover Landscape Architecture, Site Planning, Urban Design, Historic Site Restoration, Park and Recreation Facilities, and Ornamental Horticulture. Barreto/Dowd believes that creativity can and should be compatible with efficient execution. We explore new approaches and solutions to design problems that work in the field as well  as in theory. We give balance to creativity with strong quality, schedule, and budget control through management efficiency. Barreto/Dowd participates in all phases of the planning and design process from the project program development, feasibility studies, conceptual planning and design, through project implementation.

For more information visit:

Topic of the Month: Designing a Green Roof
Dowd tree planter
The concept of a green roof has many benefits and advantages, but designing one can be a bit tricky, depending on the location and the circumstances. Architect Daniel Dowd spoke with us about his green roof design for the LeRoy F. Smith Jr. Public Safety Building in the Essex County Complex in Newark, New Jersey, scheduled to be constructed this summer.

In 2008, Dowd had done a lot of work on the grounds of The Essex County Complex, which is comprised of multiple buildings taking up a couple of blocks. See the October 2008 issue of our newsletter to read more about that.

The LeRoy F. Smith Jr. Public Safety Building, for which Dowd designed the green roof, was once slated to be torn down, but then the decision was made to renovate it instead. Dowd explains, "The architect working on the building suggested making this one roof area into a green roof and everybody seemed to like the idea. It's the roof of the first floor of a multi-story building and it measures 14 feet wide by 187 feet long, so it's 2600 square feet in total. In the center there is going to be a little snack bar or caf?, so you can exit the hallway and go outside to sit amongst the plantings."

"We did the design and the construction drawings and it's going out to bid. There is a pre-bid meeting on June 2nd, and bids are due June 11th. We did the designs and the plans and specifications and we think or hope they're going to use us to do some construction. We're going to be at the pre-bid meeting to help explain the job." 

There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when designing a green roof, such as waterproofing and the weight of the materials that are used. Dowd explains, "The roof wasn't designed to be an intensely developed landscape. It was designed to be more of a traditional flat roof, so that presents problems. We use the expressions 'intensive' and 'extensive'. Intensive is when you can come in with trees and have decent depths of soil and do some things that are more intensive landscaping. But sometimes we're unable to do that because of weight restrictions and other factors, so you have your hands tied as a designer, which is the case with the green roof in Newark. When you do extensive landscaping, it's just using very shallow plantings. It's only a matter of inches of soil that you can provide, and it has to be a lightweight soil and only certain types of plants that will grow in that kind of condition. But even though there are restrictions, we ended up with a design that does both extensive and intensive landscaping."

"On the roof of a building there's a parapet wall, so if you were standing on the roof of most urban buildings, you can't just walk to the edge and fall down because the wall continues above the floor of the roof. Sometimes in a more intensive situation you might make a planter with the parapet wall and build another wall in front of it and fill it with soil and do certain plantings. But we were told we couldn't do that because of the weight and because of problems with penetrating the waterproofing. So instead, we're doing a parapet planter but we designed it with fiberglass boxes that are going to be 18" wide by 24" deep by 10 feet long. They're going to be attached to the parapet wall, so it's like putting a planter right up against the parapet wall so it's not touching the ground, and it's supported by the wall.

"The fiberglass planters will run continuous along the inside face of the parapet wall and the top of the planters will be level with the top of the parapet wall. We're going to use a boxwood hedge and we're going to have English Ivy with the idea that it's going to trail down from the parapet wall down the face of the building. That will go all the way around."

"The parapet wall has to be a certain height for safety, but it's being cut down and the architect is designing a glass railing instead, so it feels more open and it's visually more connected with the outside. It's going to be constructed with sheets of glass and it will have a whole different feel."

"The planters will have built-in irrigation and everything will drain somewhat naturally out of the bottom the roof is sloped in different areas to low points with drains and the water just finds its way to the drain."

"We planned on using a number of custom planters from the same company, Tournesol Siteworks, so everything will match. We're putting trees on column lines, so structurally it will be able to take the weight. So we picked locations where we would have the ability to put something heavy in the area of about 4,000 pounds. There will be planters that will be approximately 17' apart. Then there is seating area in the middle. The other landscaped areas are wings, and each wing is identical so it's a symmetrical layout. Each wing has four tree planters and the tree planters are built with the same material and finish as the parapet planter."

"The trees are going to be a type of hybrid dogwood developed by Rutgers University. There have been problems with the American dogwood tree having some diseases. The Chinese dogwood seems to hold up better, so at Rutgers University they crossbred the two species and came up with what they call a Rutgers Hybrid dogwood, which are very resistant to the problems that the native tree is susceptible to. It's a nice tree because it has a flower in the spring and it has nice fall color and it doesn't turn into a gigantic tree like an oak tree. It's what's considered a small tree. So we have those, and in each planter we have landscape lighting to uplight the trees."

"From the outside, when you look at the roof from the outdoors on the ground, it's going to have a very different feel and atmosphere compared to when you're actually on the roof. When you look at it from the ground, the trees will be evenly spaced and symmetrical and then there will be an evergreen hedge so it has more formality to it. The plantings that sit right on the roof are much more natural looking and more informal, and I think that contrast is interesting."

"On the roof itself we used products from a company called Live Roof, which supplies 1' x 2' plastic trays and I worked with them on a nice mix of plants to grow. With this particular company you get them pre-vegetated. When they grow the plants in the greenhouse and when the trays come to the job, they are 95% vegetative. It's kind of simple and these things fit together nice and tight. It's really nice the way this company set up their whole system. The plants are all established and you put it down and it's like when somebody puts sod down on a lawn. We have to put one layer of a material called a slip sheet on top of the waterproofing and then the trays just sit right on top of that. They come in three thicknesses, but we used two thicknesses. One is only 4-1/4" thick and those will be on the main floor of these two wings. Then along the building itself, there will be taller trays that are six inches taller to hide the waterproofing on the side of the building. We couldn't penetrate the waterproofing or do some other things that we would normally do, so we're hiding all of that by using 6" depth of soil in these trays. In them we'll be using daylilies along with some other plants that will be tightly spaced, so the inside perimeter of this roof has the 6" with the daylilies wrapped all around. Daylilies are more like a grass and I see that as more casual and more informal in how it's going to look. On the floor there will be different types of sedum. Some will flower in the spring, some flower in the summer and some flower in the fall, so it will look more varied on the roof whereas when you look at the building from the outside, you'll mainly see the evergreen hedge and the ivy."

"What's nice about this particular system is with the 6" trays, the tray is only 3-1/4" deep but there is 6" of soil and the way the company does this is that they put pieces of plastic called soil elevators around the outside that hold the soil in, and then after the trays are put down on the roof next to one another, the piece of plastic is removed so there is soil right up against soil and everything is all interconnected. And we're going to have irrigation everywhere."

"We plan to put a bunch more planters around the seating area that are going to sit right on the pavers, which are 2' x 2' in a grid pattern. So everything is lined up, and the planters line up in a similar fashion, in straight lines." 

Although the general public won't have access to the rooftop garden, employees who work in the building will be able to enjoy the outdoor space on their lunch or coffee breaks. "There will be tables and chairs where people can sit out there. It would be something that would only be visible from the inside of the building out."

"There are so many good things about doing green roofs. They help to reduce heating costs, they're more attractive, plus we're getting more use out of the building by extending the function in an area that wouldn't normally have a use. It's an area for employees to go and it's something more positive for them at their workplace. Another benefit to the green roof is that it reduces the amount of storm water in the storm water system in cities. Newark has some sewage lines that are what they call combined sewers and when there is a lot of rain, the systems can't handle it and they end up dumping into the Passaic River. So any reduction you can do in a city like Newark is a huge plus. Then there are other big energy savings. They say you can reduce your air conditioning by 25 to 50% by having a green roof."

According to Dowd, a green roof can actually extend the life of a roof rather than decrease it because, "it's protecting the roof from the elements and there's a potential 200 to 300% extension of the membrane life expectancy. So it's actually helping the life of the roof and it has all of these other nice benefits, plus it looks great."

"They really were tying our hands in terms of what we could do, but we still think we did something pretty neat anyhow. It's going to be pretty well landscaped and I think it's all worked out nicely."

Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community
The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers. If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit:

Architect Online's Continuing Education Center

Architect Online's Online Continuing Education Center gives professionals a convenient way to earn necessary continuing education credits without having to set foot in a classroom. The courses listed, sponsored by the companies noted, are accessible from anywhere you can establish an online connection. Just register, read the required material, and then take the test, either through a downloadable mail-in form, or free via a secure online connection, depending on the course. You'll be able to maintain your professional credentials, at your pace, and at a location that works for you. Visit:

Architectural Record Continuing Education Center
Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit:

Architectural Record Discussion Forums

The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit:

The Green Meeting Industry Council

The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit 501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of green standards that will improve the environmental performance of meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only professional green meetings organization that is a member of the Convention Industry Council. For more information visit:

The World Architecture Community
The World Architecture Community invites all architects to create a free profile on their website. The World Architecture Portal is a unique comprehensive international directory and catalog of contemporary architecture where all architects, scholars and institutions may submit their work and links to share with colleagues from around the world.
For more information visit:

We hope you enjoyed our informative monthly e-newsletter. For questions, comments or more information, please e-mail or call us today.

Liz Benton, Editor 
Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.

Copyright Devonian Stone of New York, Inc. 2008. All Rights Reserved. Content may not be copied or reproduced in any way without the written consent of Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.