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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News     
          Monthly Newsletter
March 2013
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: A Rooftop Therapy Garden

Architectural Firm of the Month: Thomas Biro Landscape Architect

Helpful Links for Architects     

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Devonian Stone stair treads Welcome to the March issue of our newsletter! In each issue we present you with interesting and informative articles about the various projects architects and designers are working on around the country. If there is a project you would like to share with us, please feel free to contact us and tell us about it. If you are chosen, we will feature your project in one of our upcoming issues of this newsletter, and highlight your firm as well. To learn more about our "high-end" cut-to-size Glacier Blue® Devonian Sandstone products, please click here to visit our website.
Architectural Firm of the Month: Thomas Biro Landscape Architect
  Thomas Biro 1
Thomas Biro is the principal of Thomas Biro Associates, LLC, established in 1993.
He has worked in the field for over twenty five years. During that time, he has designed a diverse range of projects including;  parks, rooftop gardens, office parks, therapy gardens, streetscapes, and hundreds of residential landscapes. He has served on his town's Architectural and Site Design Committee and also the Street Tree Committee for over five years. He has won many awards for his designs. Throughout the years he has developed a collaborative relationships with other professionals and contractors to implement his design ideas. To communicate his vision, his office utilizes the latest in computerized design tools for drafting, rendering, and creating 3D models. His landscapes incorporate both aesthetic and functional elements  that meet and exceed the expectations of his clients.


For more Information:

Thomas Biro 2At the Children's Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, there is a very unique garden that was thoughtfully designed with the primary purpose of helping children to heal. Landscape Architect Thomas Biro was hired for the project after members of the hospital staff decided they wanted to have an outdoor space for the children. The result is a whimsical garden where patients can interact with their surroundings and in 2010 Biro won an Honor Award from the New Jersey Society of Landscape Architects for his design.

Biro was approached by hospital administrators before the hospital was built as part of an addition to the Robert Wood Johnson Children's Hospital in Mountainside, NJ. Biro explains, "This therapy garden was built as part of the new hospital. They were building an auditorium on the basement level and this was going to go on the top of that auditorium, so it's actually a rooftop garden."

There were many elements Biro was asked to incorporate into the design in order for the garden to be therapeutic for the children. Biro explains, "I met with doctors and administrators and they told me pretty much what they wanted. Since the garden was going to be located directly outside the indoor therapy room which has a swimming pool and other activities for the patients, one of the things that was necessary was a ramp leading out into the garden. Many of the patients are accident victims and have severe physical disabilities, and a lot of them are learning how to use wheelchairs." Fitting a ramp in the limited space presented a challenge since the garden area only measures about 125' x 35', but Biro managed to use a lot of curved shapes to make things work. Not only was that a practical choice, but an aesthetic one as well.

"Other things they were looking for were steps and different types of paving surfaces where patients could practice using a wheelchair or crutches. We did an exposed aggregate surface and we used three different types of aggregate. We have a granite paved area that is used as a donor recognition area. The doctors, nurses and staff of the hospital were the ones who initiated and paid for the project, so they would buy pieces of granite that we used for the patio. Surrounding the patio is a seat wall and members of the hospital staff usually sit there and have their lunch. It also overlooks a fishpond."

There is a fishpond, a spinning sphere and plantings all designed to help children recover and heal. Biro explains, "The planters are raised at a height so children in wheelchairs can access the plants and help with pruning - that's part of their therapy. I tried to use a number of different deciduous plants so it would flower at different times of the year. And since it's a rooftop garden, it's only about five feet up from the outdoor public sidewalk, so part of the garden that is directly seen from the sidewalk has a number of grasses and perennials. I used plantings that create different interest throughout the seasons and there are some evergreen trees for winter interest. Then along the ramp there are a number of metal arbors going up overhead and those are covered with wisteria and clematis so it forms a sort of ceiling to the ramp."

"The ramp leads to a water feature which is a round granite sphere, or a globe. The globe is held up by a thin sheet of water and it weighs a little over a ton, but because it has pressurized water underneath, it spins. The globe was constructed to be a perfect sphere. If it were off, it wouldn't spin, so that was a specialized thing that we wanted to do. Water from the globe then spills out onto what's called a runnel. This is all made out of granite and it's like a stream, and that stream drops off into a circular granite fishpond. It was manufactured by Kusser Fountain Works in Germany, so everything was shipped from Germany. The pond is a granite circular pond and that weighs 14 tons. Luckily this was designed prior to building the hospital, so they were able to structurally build the roof so it could support everything."

Every aspect of the garden has a therapeutic purpose, giving the children a chance to heal by interacting with playful objects and nature itself. Biro explains, "The kids can come out and are educated about the plantings and are given lessons on pruning. They can also come out and feed the fish. They can learn how to use their wheelchairs and crutches and come up the ramp to the globe and play around with the globe. It's also a good spot for the staff to come outdoors and get out of the hospital and also the parents of the children. There are beds in the patient's rooms so parents can spend the night with their children, so after a while the garden is just a nice place where they can go outside and get away a little bit."

Doing the kind of work that enhances anyone's life, particularly the life of a child, must be extremely rewarding, to say the least. Biro agrees. "It was a very satisfying experience."  
Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) 

The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), a Knowledge Community of The American Institute of Architects, is committed to the promotion of all residential architecture based on architectural content irrespective of style. For more information visit:  

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:

CORA - Congress of Residential Architecture 

CORA is a grass root organization that encourages our members to participate in the dialog of improving residential architecture in a way that suits them best. The purpose of the CORA is to provide a continuing forum for advocating and enhancing residential architecture by all individuals, both professionals and non-professionals, that share a common interest in improving the quality of the homes and communities we live in. 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.

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