The adaptive reuse of a former police station transformed 29 Garden
Street into a new residence hall for Harvard University
and a notable example of green roof design in the Boston
area. The second-floor garden courtyard built atop the
unadorned roof of the existing parking garage provides
an outdoor amenity for residents and has made this dwelling
one of the most sought after on campus.
The adaptive reuse of a former police
station and parking garage transformed 29 Garden Street
into a new residence hall for Harvard University graduate
students, faculty, and employees. At the street level,
we were charged with improving a 5,000 square foot pedestrian
environment with shade tree plantings and renovated
sidewalks. The program also called for the creation
of a second floor level 10,600 sf garden courtyard on
the unadorned roof of the existing parking garage. This
space would not only be an outdoor amenity for the residents,
but also provide access to Garden Street, the parking
garage below and a row of third-floor units above. Programmatically,
it needed to accommodate sitting, studying, and socializing
for individuals or small groups.
Our intention was to create a garden with
a varied and changing two-dimensional composition given
the considerable constraint of a limited soil loading
capacity. We created a patterned ground plane comprised
of two cohorts of extensive vegetation, alternating
in bands of greens and reds for most of the growing
season. A wide variety of sedum species were carefully
chosen for their hardiness in extensive planting systems
as well as their ability to create year round interest.
Paths of wood decking and concrete unit pavers cut through
the vegetation beds and allow for areas of strolling
and seating along the way. Intensive planters support
Arnold Promise Witch hazels and Junipers for screening
purposes where the garage structure can accommodate
the added load needed for the three-foot soil depth.
Our main challenge was not to exceed the
65 lbs/cf dead load throughout the majority of the space.
In addition, the depth of the extensive planter beds
could not exceed 6-8”, yet had to allow for layers
of waterproofing and drainage and proper cultural requirements
of the sedums.
We collaborated with the architect on
the layout of the courtyard. We were the sole designers
for the courtyard planting with input from the green
roof provider and structural engineer. We worked extensively
with the green roof provider, architect, and owner so
that all parties understood drainage, winter precipitation,
and maintenance issues.
This project is a notable example of green
roof design in the Boston area. The beds of extensive
vegetation provide a dynamic groundplane as well as
thermal protection to the garage area below and absorb
considerable stormwater. Upon opening, this residence
hall became the most sought after housing on Harvard’s
Foye & Letendre Landscaping
Pine and Swallow Associates, Inc.
Weidlinger Associates Inc
Bond Brothers, Inc.
Groundcover Plant Supplier:
Emory Knolls Farms, Inc.
Green Roof System:
American Hydrotech, Inc.