“Green jobs” is a catchphrase frequently heard amid talk of economic recovery and the postindustrial landscape. Now one such green employer, Garden City Roofs, is quite literally growing in Queens. Under construction on the roof of an old typewriter-ribbon factory, this 21,000-square-foot space will showcase various green-roof systems, from thin, extensive plantings to intensive roof gardens for crops. Designed by Brooklyn-based SO-IL, the project places each system in a hexagonal module, creating a graphic pattern across the rooftop surface. With exposure to adjacent elevated train lines, as well as along a flight path to LaGuardia Airport, the site presents an unusual opportunity to make green roofs more familiar to the public. “We want to create something very visible, very recognizable,” said SO-IL principal Florian Idenburg. “One of the major goals is to make these systems understandable to people.”
A 200-square-foot sales and education office (technically a maintenance shed) will house a desk for the proprietor, Beth Lieberman. “We wanted to wink toward Bucky domes,” Idenburg said of the pavilion. The first hexagon has been planted, and the rest will be filled in as green-roof suppliers express interest. Lierberman plans to offer tours to co-op boards, community groups, building owners, and individuals, as well as to open the space to architects and landscape architects and their clients.