There’s been a lot of buzz about the new Futsal Court planned by Hacienda Community Development Corporation, located in Portland, Oregon. The Green Above Ground collaborative, is designing and installing the green roof portion, and incorporating stormwater management strategies along with assistance from Cushing Civil Engineers.  We are working with the rest of the design team, including Hacienda, Scott | Edwards Architecture, and general contractor LMC Construction, along with a range of other partners.

The Oregonian recently mentioned the project, along with a mention in the Daily Journal of Commerce, along with a recent announcement of donations from both Adidas and the Portland Timbers. A view from Killingsworth shows the configuration of the roof, which will include 4,000 square feet of vegetation along the south side.

rendering by Scott | Edwards Architecture

The project will be funded by the City of Portland Ecoroof Incentive as part of the contract with the Green Above Ground team that includes Snyder Roofing of Oregon, Teufel Landscape, and Verde. A major component of our project will include mentoring and workforce development for green roof construction and roofing through project partners to give minority workers additional skills in the sustainable industries.

KPTV Channel 12 also had a longer story about the court, showing the need in the neighborhood. Stay tuned for more buzz as the project continues to take shape.


A recent article on Greenroofs.com by BES Landscape Architect Casey Cunningham mentioned a couple of current Green Above Ground projects here in Portland. The short essay delves into the more than 100,000 square feet of green roof built in Portland in 2011. Amongst the many project featured comments about the BPA 905 Building project, as well as mentioned retrofits at OHSU including the C-Wing, and the Hatfield Research Center – shown below.

OHSU - Hatfield Research Center - photo by Casey Cunningham

Look for an update of this soon – as we have peaked above 3 acres of built work, and are well on our way to 4 acres!

After checking out the progress of the BPA 905 Building Project during its first season, Jason King from TERRA.fluxus jumped at a chance to help Michael Brand, the Building Management Specialist at the Bonneville Power Administration when he called asking for my assistance. He wanted to add another layer to the system at the roof terraces – one that would provide some context and education for the users of the building. Using the plans, he had fabricated a number of plant identification tags – and we spent the morning placing them in the appropriate locations.

The 4th floor terrace, which is the largest of the four we vegetated, will act as the location of the tags. Plants are repeated in different configurations throughout all of the levels – so any questions should be answered, as most of the 40+ species of plants were tagged – with the exception of the 12 species of sedums. And the view was still amazing – the winter aesthetic of the terraces with bark color, texture of grasses, and the great distant vista of downtown and the west hills. Definitely worth a visit.

Building on the previous post, the Bonneville Power Administration Green Roof went through a number of iterations in the design process, and also required the attention and on-site modification that often comes from challenging retrofits.

The existing rooftops during demolition - predominately paved with small planters which made them feel somewhat barren. Pavers were saved and re-used in the final design which saved cost and materials.

Landscape Architect’s Role The project involved working with a diverse group of stakeholders in developing the concept, as well as coordinating with multiple trade partners as part of the design-build collaborative team. The combination of technical knowledge and experience with various green roof projects allowed the team to adapt to unique site conditions while remaining conscious of project goals and overall budget constraints. Working on structure requires knowledge of multiple systems and how they interact. In this case, the GSA outlined specific goals, but left it open to the design team to come up with creative solutions that fit the overall budget. Conversely, on a typical project, we would select a system based on the unique conditions of the project.

In this case, however, the roofing system was predetermined, so it became a challenge to fit a particular system to the project parameters. This, along with integration of additional insulation to meet energy efficiency goals meant that we needed to troubleshoot conflicts between competing project goals, allowing us to maintain safe parapet heights, incorporate window-washing infrastructure, and maintain ADA accessibility at thresholds.

A typical roof level after installation, showing the transformation of the space, with seating areas located in sunny perimeters, vegetation free zones at building edges, and the pattern of bermed vegetations with rock ‘stream’.

Another particular challenge was the structural capacity of the roof. It was determined that we had the ability to berm up in certain areas of the roof, where the original planters were located. Rather than create a homogenized and monotonous pattern, the berming configuration shifts on every roof, but still falls within specific loading parameters – invisible to the naked eye. As with most projects, determining the right mix of plantings was also vital, as the conditions for each rooftop and region vary. In this case, the terraces were on the north side of the building so the conditions were more shady, with early and late sun. Using regional experience with multiple projects and microclimates – the designers developed a palette of plantings that provided diversity, habitat, stormwater management, and heat island mitigation, while providing a dynamic and beautiful amenity for the building users.

Looking from the west towards the doorway to the interior of the office. The stream winds through a range of colors and textures that include a mix of evergreen and deciduous plantings adapted to rooftop conditions.

HIGHLIGHT: A Model for Energy Efficiency Until now, vegetated roofs have not been considered viable. A recent decision by the Oregon Construction Industry Energy Board, as part of the Reach Code, recognized green roofs as both an energy conservation measure and as way to help reduce urban heat island effect. The BPA project exemplifies the concept of energy efficiency.

View from east access of typical roof, highlighting the dynamic nature of the berms along with the varying textures and colors of semi-intensive plantings. Sedum cuttings quickly colonized the low areas and side slopes to provide erosion control, color, and texture, augmented by herbs and edibles like coast strawberry available at the edge for grazing by building tenants

INNOVATION: Integrated Project Delivery Another unique feature of this project is the delivery of services. There is a trend in the green roof industry towards integrated projects, and the team has responded to this by the creation of a design-build collaborative, including the roofing contractor, landscape contractor and landscape architect as a core team. Additional sub-consultants such as structural, architectural, mechanical and related trades are added to projects on an as-needed basis. The result is a simplified process, combining all of the necessary elements together in a team with proven experience working together on similar projects. Each consultant and contractor maintains a clear distinction in scope that adheres to professional responsibilities, but the process is streamlined with more clarity of communication and documentation. For this unique project the General Contractor (GC) was able to contract with one entity to provide complete design and construction services. The team also brought in structural to evaluate roofing capacity, and mechanical engineering to assist with rainwater harvesting systems.

The variety of colors and textures occupy complex vignettes that display the periodic colors and textures. The bloom of the sedum species, natives perennials with vibrant summer blooms like Oregon Sunshine, and the pink tufts of drought tolerant Armeria maritima play off the more subtle purple shades of Hidcote Lavender.


Project Name:

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) 905 Building Green Roof Terraces

Landscape Architect:

TERRA.fluxus | Landscape + Urbanism (Portland, OR)


General Services Administration (GSA) building owner

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) building tenant

General Contractor:

Allen Bradbury Construction (Auburn, WA)

Roofing Contractor:

Snyder Roofing of Oregon (Tigard, OR)

Landscape Contractor:

Teufel Landscape (Portland, OR)

Mechanical / Plumbing Design (Cisterns):

PAE Consulting Engineers (Portland, OR)

Last year, TERRA.fluxus prepared some graphics for the BPA 905 Building Green Roof project, to submit it for a couple of awards. While unfortunately, we didn’t get an award, the graphics are definitely worth a second look – as they tell the story of the project and some of its unique features. Here’s part one of a two part post showing the graphics and final product.

Overview The rooftop terraces in this project are part of a larger, multiple phase effort for overall building energy efficiency upgrades as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The owner of the facility, the General Services Administration, along with their tenant, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) upgraded mechanical and building systems and replaced roofing for the entire building, allowing for the retrofit of four rooftop terraces that step down along the north portion of the building.

The project consists of four separate roofs stepping up from Level 4 to Level 7 along the north façade of the building. The total area is 9,000 square feet, with 5,800 of vegetated area.

This unique retrofit project started with new roofing that replaced the existing membrane and provided a significant increase in insulation depth for energy performance that would hit the target of R-50. Atop the new insulation, areas of non-vegetated roofing are installed with cool roofing membranes to minimize heat gain. Vegetated portions were specifically designed to meet the following client-specified goals:

  • Increase the insulation value of the roof
  • Capture rainwater to maintain the sites natural hydrologic cycle
  • Provide habitat for beneficial insects and animals
  • Reduce urban heat island effect
  • Provide visual beauty for employees that look down on the roof areas
  • Meet applicable federal standards for green roof construction

An enlarged view of the Level 4 rooftop, showing the configuration of pedestrian areas, seating, and access from the interior of the building. The sculptural berms and ‘river’ connects the four roof levels and reflects the different loading characteristics of the roof.

The existing terraces were predominately paved, with large planters that previously held ornamental varieties that were irrigated with domestic water supply. The spaces were described as ‘desolate’ and were used sporadically by building users, but not considered an amenity. Through the design process, the team worked with building tenants to identify the aesthetic preferences, necessary amount of seating, and overall range of planned uses for the spaces. This involvement was also expanded to include educational information, located at building entries and key areas like the cafeteria, regarding a range of vegetated roofing options, trickling down through all of the users of the building. The distinctions between extensive green roof, semi-intensive roofing, and intensive roof terrace were vital to understanding the type of project that was being planned, and managing the overall level of expectations, which led to significant support from throughout the building.

Exploded diagram showing the built up layers from roofing, insulation, paving, and green roof components on a typical level. The cisterns are fed by roof drains and pumped back up to the green roof for irrigation that requires zero potable water.

Results The project includes over 9,000 square feet of roof area over 4 different levels. Paved terraces surround sculptural berms planted with semi-intensive vegetated roof, encompassing a total of 5,800 square feet of planted area. The rooftops are oriented for views from within the building, as well as to be viewed from above. Starting at the upper level (7th Floor) a stone ‘stream’ winds through the adjacent sculptural ‘hills’, referencing the connection of the BPA to the indigenous waterways of the Pacific Northwest. The similar size of the upper roofs (5,6,7) are less uniform due to the berming and flowing nature of these elements, giving each floor a unique experience. This unifying element connects each level down to the larger (4th Floor) where it terminates into a fanned delta. The overlapping berms and waves of vegetation provide a separation of the space to avoid the fishbowl effect and allow for adjacent access to the plantings.

The dynamic quality of seasonal planting variation is captured in flowing waves of color and texture that overlap and change over the entire year.

Over thirty species of plants were included to achieve a mosaic, including small coniferous and deciduous trees, a range of shrubs, grasses, and perennials, rounded out with a mix of succulent groundcover cuttings to quickly provide soil coverage. Plantings were selected for drought tolerance, color, texture, scent, and seasonal variation. Rainwater is captured in 35,000 gallon cisterns and pumped up to each floor, giving the project, once established, net-zero potable water usage. High efficiency irrigation heads with evapotranspiration-enabled smart controllers and moisture sensors provide additional water savings by adapting to local conditions to provide only necessary supplemental water through seasonal summer drought.

A rendering of the proposed project shows the potential usable space along with the design intent. The graphics were essential for education, as well as to manage expectations of the end result that was not an extensive roof, but not a full roof garden.

TERRA.fluxus was asked by OHSU to provide a visualization for a potential project on their campus. Casey Eye Institute offers the potential for a visual ‘sustainable roof’ that includes a number of features. The site is visible from many locations on campus, as well as viewable from the aerial tram – where it is viewed by 1.5 million visitors annually.


The project description includes:

“A dynamic concept featuring concentric rings of vegetation that work with the architecture of the building. Bands define microclimates and allow for different soil depths that support a variety of species for aesthetics and biological habitat potential. The circular penthouse is ringed with vertical axis wind turbines and the south edge is lined with photovoltaic panels to supplement building energy usage and provide visible elements of OHSU’s commitment to green development.”

A rendering of the planned roof is found below, with additional detail. There will be more information to come as this project evolves.

A post from popular blog Design*Sponge offered some interesting images of a familiar green roof or two. Some of the work TERRA.fluxus collaborated on with the non-profit iteration of Ecoroofs Everywhere between 2002-2005. Another, seen below, is the Elgert/Sweeney Residence from 2008, the green roof designed by Jason King and installed by E2 in their new incarnation as a for-profit installation firm. The project was designed by Brian Sweeney (BPS Architecture) and the green roof was used to fulfill Portland stormwater management manual guidelines.

Elgert/Sweeney Residence Green Roof

As Design*Sponge founder and columnist Grace Bonney reflected on a trip to Portland:

“One of ideas I wish Brooklyn would adopt is Portland’s love of living and edible roof gardens. I’ve seen roof gardens in New York before, but I’ve never seen them used so frequently as I have here in Oregon. They’re on residential homes, commercial buildings and growing naturally on park buildings around town.”

The post included a number of other projects from Portland, and a few that Jason King worked on with Ecoroofs Everywhere as a non-profit, including the Hawthorne Condominiums and the Orpinela Guesthouse, photos of which are found below.

Hawthorne Condominiums

Orpinela Guesthouse

Thanks to Ecoroofs Everywhere for the collaborations over the years as a non- and for-profit company, and for Design*Sponge for the info for reminder and coverage of these great projects.


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