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Pashek + MTR Receives ASLA Merit Award for Healing Garden Terrace

The design for the Healing Garden Terrace at the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers at UPMC Hillman won a Merit Award from the Pennsylvania/Delaware Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.  It was exhibited at the national ASLA conference in Philadelphia last month.  It’s the second award for this project.

The challenge was to design a green roof on an existing facility that: uses the proven therapeutic power of art and nature to help in the healing process; provides a positive distraction for patients before and during treatment as well as throughout the four seasons; accommodates the safety and unique needs of blood cancer patients; provides a variety of intimate, contemplative and social gathering spaces within a small terrace; and uses sustainable design principles.  For more information check out the project page.

Convention Center Green Roof Wins Honor Award

We have just received news that our design for the David Lawrence Convention Center South Terrace Green Roof won an Honor Award from the Pennsylvania/Delaware Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). The award is the highest in its category.

Convention Center Green Roof Images_Page_03 (Large)Surrounded by windows, the 20,000 square foot South Terrace space is meant to serve as a flexible event area while showcasing the benefits of green roofs. The convention center hosts a variety of events, from small to large, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. A plaza allows space to set up for large banquets yet is still intimate to entertain small groups.

The design intent was to create a dynamic yet simplistic design to set the urban mood and help highlight the existing sculptural cable bundles that hold the iconic sweeping roof in place. The contrasting textures between the sedum and native meadow plantings explore the not-so-different growing requirements between the typical green roof plant palate and a more native plant palate.

Convention Center Green Roof Images_Page_04 (Large)The rigid structure of the space is softened by a meandering blue pathway that divides a native meadow from a low growing sedum planting. Made with recycled glass blasted pavers, the path reflects the nearby Allegheny River and speaks to the stormwater benefits of green roofs, which help reduce polluted runoff from entering waterways. The path also allows visitors to wander away from the event plaza and explore the plantings and cable bundles in more detail.

The plants were selected for their hardiness and drought resistance to lessen the need for irrigation. Most of the pavers have a high solar reflectance index (SRI) in order to reduce temperatures.

Green Roof Tour at the Pittsburgh Zoo


Schizachryium scoparium
Carex pennsylvanica
Carex pennsylvanicaSchizachryium scoparium

On October 16, 2013, Jim Pashek joined old friends on a “Rooftop Rendezvous at the Zoo” sponsored by Green Building Alliance.  Jim was involved with the project management of the “New Zoo” beginning in the early 1980’s and had the pleasure to work over the years with our tour guides that night, Frank Pizzi and Marjorie Marks.

What a specacular demonstrtion rooftop garden. About half of the planted roof area is an “extensive” roof garden with 3-4 inches of special soil mix. The other half was this lush “intensive” rooftop garden of plants placed in a special soil mix ranging from 3-36 inches.  You can tell from the photos that they have been successful to identify species that can thrive in a very hot micro climate and in very shallow soils.The garden got me thinking

that the rooftop garden at Pashek Associates is ready for an overhaul.  This “extensive” garden is planted in trays on 4 inches of special soil mix. We decided to try four varieties of sedums to see which would survive in very difficult site conditions. They all survived and have never been watered since after the first growing season.Some plants that we may plant include Carex pennsylvanica (the small grass clump like plants), which is one of the few sedges that tolerates very dry conditions.  I find it interesting that I would normally use Carex p. in part to full shade but at the Zoo, it is doing great in full sun.  I also think we will try in our rooftop garden Schizachryium scoparium, a plant that is home on the prairie and thrives in hot, dry, well drained conditions (the typical rooftop garden).

Zoo Rooftop Garden - Extensive Plantings
Zoo Rooftop Garden – Extensive Plantings

Frank, thank you for a very informative presentation and tour of the Zoo’s rooftop garden gem. Thanks also to the GBA for arranging the tour.  We look forward to another rooftop garden tour sponsored by GBA in November at the Convention Center, a green roof designed by Pashek Associates and installed by Eilser Nurseries. Maybe next summer we will have more pictures of our newly renovated rooftop garden at Pashek Associates.  Please stop in and ask for a tour of our garden here on the Northside.

In Pittsburgh, Green is in the Air

It’s summer and that means the City is green with trees.  Not only are plants in the midst of their growing season, but people are in the midst of launching green initiatives.  Last week we attended a poster  session during the Who’s Who in Green Infrastructure Implementation event hosted by the Green Building Alliance and organized by 3 Rivers Wet Weather.  The event was packed with people interested in sharing their projects and learning more about green infrastructure.

We brought along information on several of our green roof, green school, and green park projects.  At an elementary school in New Castle we were able to reduce the amount of stormwater piping and decrease the size of underground storage tanks through a combination of planted meadow areas, rain gardens, pervious overflow parking and fire lane, and a series of vegetated swales.
Y:New Castle Lockley Elementary School - 10029Rendering Bases
For Whitehall Road Regional Park in Centre County, we are pulling out all the green stops by including rain gardens, steep slopes with meadows, vegetated buffer strips, infiltration trenches, and cisterns.  In addition, 44% of the total parking spaces are stabilized turf, which further reduces the amount of stormwater runoff.
Whitehall Road MP NO Buildings rev TJ
Our last poster featured our designs for the David Lawrence Convention Center green roof, the Allegheny County Office Building green roof, and the rain gardens at Seven Springs.

This morning over 80 people packed a Pittsburgh Zoo conference room to kick-off this year’s Green Workplace Challenge (GWC), a program of Sustainable Pittsburgh.  We took part last year in the challenge and are excited to enter again this year with the revamped program.

This year’s GWC promises to be bigger, better, and have an even larger environmental impact than last year.  There are more points to acquire, more actions to take, and more resources available to help guide your business, non-profit, university, or municipality towards becoming more sustainable as well as saving money.
Last year we saved 19.9% on our energy usage without spending a lot of money.  This year we want to reduce our energy usage even further by tightening up our building envelope.  We will also start to phase out our older lighting with new highly efficient lighting.  We highly recommend any organization in Southwestern Pennsylvania sign up for this friendly competition before the deadline on July 31st, 2013.  Good luck to all participants.  Together, we can make a huge impact!

County Building Green Roof Measures its Own Effectiveness

photo-224x300You may think of the Allegheny County Office Building, 452 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, as the place to go if you have a question about your property assessment.

But this historic building is also the site of a beautiful, functional and productive green roof, designed with the help of Pashek Associates.Green roofs benefit the local environment by reducing storm water runoff; keeping buildings warmer in winter and cooler in summer; evening out daily temperature swings; and helping to mitigate the heat island effect.

The County Office Building green roof, completed in 2010, is now growing into its role as a powerful tool for protecting the environment

A network of sensors embedded in the soils monitor performance of this roof compared with a conventional “control” roof. The sensors measure roof temperature, soil moisture, water flow and water retention, with data collected every 15 minutes. Over time, this information will demonstrate the valuable role that green roofs can play in easing some of the damaging effects that development has on our environment.

Here is an example of the data that can be seen by visiting the monitoring website. This example compares temperatures in a one-month period on the control roof (top line) with temperatures recorded by two sensors on the green roof (bottom two lines).


The green roof includes four different types of growing conditions, and over time it will also be possible to learn through the monitoring system how each type performs compared with the others. They are:

  1. Intensive – 8 to 12 inches of soil and growing shrubs and plants needing the soil depth.
  2. Semi-intensive – 6 inches of soil and able to grow plants and shrubs.
  3. Roll out Mat – set on 4 inches of soil, this pre-grown sedum mat provides instant cover.
  4. Tray system – easy to install, pre-grown sedum and lightweight.

Pashek Associates Leading the Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge in Small Business Category

Bike-Friendly-Employer-224x300The Pittsburgh Green Workplace challenge enables businesses to participate in a friendly challenge program where they can receive recognition for their sustainable actions and achievements.

Pashek Associates is leading 12 businesses in the small business category (less than 50 people).

According to Valerie Patrick, PhD and Sustainability Coordinator for Bayer Corporation, “sustainability is a way of thinking and applies to every aspect of our work.” We couldn’t agree with her more.

Pashek Associates received points by tracking utility bills using an EPA website, being a bike friendly business, having a Prius for a corporate car, and planting native plants on the roof of their building. Green office policies of using washable cups and recycling also contributed to the firm’s leadership position in the challenge. Next up is an energy audit to begin reducing energy demand and our carbon footprint.

For more information, or if you are interested in signing up for the Challenge, please see the Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge Website.

A Green Roof for a Green Convention Center

The Gold LEED Certified convention center in Pittsburgh is becoming even greener. This fall, a green roof is being constructed above the loading dock and is fully accessible to event goers.


In the summer of 2010, as planning and design was being completed for fixing a roof leak, the Sports and Exhibition Authority realized they had a golden opportunity to install and showcase a green roof that is readily accessible from meeting rooms on the third floor.


Pashek Associates was hired to design the new roof to include outdoor gathering and event space along with planting areas. The final design includes a meandering blue pathway resembling a stream, keeping with the theme of the existing architecture and meant to remind visitors of the green roof’s stormwater benefits. The path separates two contrasting types of planting areas. The first is a typical sedum planting done on most extensive green roofs. The second consists of native perennials, providing wildlife habitat. The simplicity of the design allows the building’s sculptural cable bundles to remain a focal point.

Stay tuned for photos of the ongoing construction to be completed this fall!

Permaculture, Community Revitalization, and Sustainable Design

A small, but growing, group of neighbors in East Liberty, called the Borland Garden Cooperative, have come together in order to develop a sustainable, multi-purpose urban garden that eliminates vacancy, adds vibrancy and biodiversity, and serves as an educational tool and community gathering space.


Funded by the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh, Sprout Fund, and the Sarah Heinz Foundation, the Borland Garden Cooperative partnered with East Liberty Development Incorporated, Pittsburgh Permaculture, and GTECH Strategies to develop a unique urban garden model. Pashek Associates was hired to develop a master plan for the garden in which energy and water will be captured, materials will be recycled and reused, and everyone who works in the garden shares tools and the harvest.


The group envisions the garden as a place in which the surrounding community can come together to learn, share resources, work together, grow together, and share in the bounty. Some of the unique features of the garden include an urban food forest, traditional vegetable garden, water cistern, bio-shelter, rain gardens, chicken coop, outdoor kitchen and gathering space, and a labyrinth.


Chimney swift habitat helps offer pest management as well as doubling as educational signage. A windspire serves as a sculptural focal point as well as powering lighting. Bee and butterfly habitat promotes pollination within the garden. A sensory garden entices the public to walk up to, smell, touch, taste, see and interact with the garden. Compost bins help recycle chicken manure, garden waste, as well as compostable materials from adjacent neighbors.

The master planning process is almost finished but that does not mean the work is done. The Cooperative will be out in full force to prepare for the installation of the rain gardens, cistern, street trees, and urban food forest in the fall.