High above the streets of downtown Chicago, a relatively new strategy in sustainable building design is taking root—literally. Green roofs have been top of mind in Chicago since the famous City Hall rooftop garden was first planted in 2000, as part of the city’s urban heat island initiative.
But unlike the garden at City Hall, many of these urban oases are hidden from public view in locations not accessible to the average person—out of sight and out of mind. One local photographer is hoping to reignite the conversation about the importance of green rooftops and put this sustainable design strategy back in focus during an upcoming exhibit at the Gage Gallery at Roosevelt University.
Brad Temkin, an award-winning photographer and professor at Columbia College Chicago, documents examples of the green roof movement in Chicago and around the world in his exhibit, Rooftop: Second Nature. It will feature as many as 20 large-scale pictures of green rooftops, or eco-roofs, many of which are located right here in Chicago. The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and several of Roosevelt University's five green roofs are among those included in the exhibit.
“Mayor Daley had a really strong green initiative, and it was through this green initiative that all these [green roofs] came together,” said Temkin, noting that Chicago was an early proponent of eco-roofs as a way to fight heat island effect and better manage stormwater runoff. “A green roof is the most efficient and the best way to do both those things.” According to the city, more than 500 vegetated roofs provide approximately 5.5 million square feet of green roof coverage in Chicago.
Rooftop opens on February 9 with a 5pm reception and discussion of the exhibit. Michael Bryson, who is the director of Roosevelt University’s sustainability studies program, said he hopes to use the exhibit as a backdrop for additional events and lectures on topics such as sustainable urban development, building design and green infrastructure. “This photo exhibit is really the first time we’ve had a photo exhibit [at the Gage Gallery] that has an environmental focus to it, and this exhibit uniquely hones in on urban sustainability and landscape in a really interesting way,” Bryson said.
Temkin's work will be on display at the Gage Gallery until May 6. In the meantime, scroll down and check out some of the stunning photos that will be featured in the exhibit.
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