Living Architecture Monitor: Unbuilding and Rebuilding the COOKFOX Green Roof

Press, Studio News 07.09.2018
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Gwen Schantz – Living Architecture Monitor

We’ve built several green roofs in New York City, and the big ones that we install with cranes over the course of several weeks always get all the attention. But it’s the small roofs, on tall buildings and accessible only by stairs and elevators, that we put the most thought into. One of the most notable small projects we’ve built came about in the fall of 2016, when Cook Fox Architects reached out because they were moving to a new office space. We were excited to work with them– they’re one of the leading firms in New York specializing in sustainable design and LEED projects. We were also fans of their old office, a historic penthouse where the architects themselves had built a green roof in 2006, where they grew vegetables, sedum, wildflowers and even kept bees.

The staff had developed a loyalty to their green roof over the years; so a decade later, when the firm had outgrown its office and was knee-deep in the renovation of their new space thirty blocks uptown, they reached out to us, asking if we could move it for them. Their landlords at the old office didn’t want to keep the 5,000 sf sedum installation, and rather than dumpstering the whole thing, Cook Fox employees hoped to move it to the terraces of their new office. They had built this green roof themselves, had cultivated it and watched it grow for years, and throwing it out was not in keeping with their commitment to sustainability. It also didn’t hurt that the cost of moving the green roof was less than the cost of dumpstering it and building a new one from scratch.  Plus, they had anticipated this day when they built the green roof, and they had prepared for it: the green roof was a modular system made with knitted polyethelyne green paks.