Bell Architects

Bell Architects

Washington, DC

UDC Urban Agriculture Rooftop
UDC Urban Agriculture Rooftop
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University of the District of Columbia Agriculture Roof

The project included master planning and implementation of green roofs at 5 campus buildings as part of a DDOE grant focused on storm water management improvements and environmental education. One of these buildings did not have the structural capacity for any planting, so a combination of building integrated photovoltaics and ground-mounted cisterns was planned to augment and expand the intended goals. Informational signs are included throughout. The first of the 5 buildings has been completed with expanded scope.

While extensive green roofs help to cool buildings and reduce stormwater runoff, the green roof at Building 44 and greenhouse also produces food. The roof is the anchor of the CAUSES Urban Food Hub, which consists of: food production; food preparation; food distribution; waste and water management. As the world’s population increases and cities, in particular, continue to grow in size, it is of utmost importance to meet the food and water security needs of urban populations. Rooftop food production is one method to grow food in a dense urban areas.  As the largest food-producing roof in DC, it is a prototype in utilizing roofs to help eliminate food deserts.

Food Production: greenhouse for propagation, education and experimentation with raised planters and trellises for growing vegetables, herbs and pollination garden with future beehives.  Replicating this prototype roof farm can create local jobs and grow fresh food in food deserts of DC;

Food Preparation: a concurrent project installed demonstration and testing kitchens in Building 44, to develop and teach how to cook tasty and healthy meals with fresh produce;

Food Distribution: fresh food is more nutritious when harvested at its peak and delivered to end users nearby.  Not only does this get fresh food to the table faster, it also greatly reduces carbon footprint for delivery vehicles. Urban farmers could walk their produce to farmers markets;

Waste and Water Management: ALL precipitation to be used on-site, with most detained at the roof level for irrigation. Demand-controlled fertilization monitors at parking level to measure quantity and quality of farming run-off, as well as capture in ground-mounted cisterns for reuse in irrigation, maximizing diversion of nutrients into plants, rather than rivers. No pesticides, since most pests don’t reach roof level.

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Status: Built
Location: Washington, DC, US
Firm Role: Architect, Project Manager