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The Barnes Museum and the Art of the Green Roof

Contributed by Jane Winkel

The 13,000 sf green roof on the newly opened Barnes Museum in Philadelphia, is a compliance green roof intended to satisfy the Philadelphia Water Department’s stormwater management requirements. Established with pre-grown Sedum mats which were interplanted with perennials, the simple, un-irrigated extensive green roof is unusual because of its ability to support flowering plants in a thin un-irrigated assembly. Throughout the spring and summer Achillea, Talinum, Dianthus, and Phlox will provide a progression of color through the green carpet.

Achillea millefolium and the Philadelphia skyline

Designed by Roofmeadow and installed by G.R.A.S.S. (a Roofmeadow Network contractor) the green roof lays on a roof which protects a priceless and historic art collection. The collection, relocated to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from its original home in Lower Marion Township, is a destination for art lovers and tourists intent on seeing Dr. Albert Barnes’ impeccable selection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings.

Green roof in bloom (plants provided by Sempergreen and Emory Knoll Farm)

Not just a stormwater management device, the green roof is in harmony with the striking minimal architecture designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. Olin Partnership designed “The Garden” for the gallery. EDA Contractors (a Roofmeadow Network Contractor)¬†provided the waterproofing. Roofmeadow Certified green roof media was provided by SkyGarden.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. The green roof is just one of many important “green” features of The Barnes. I’ve heard from nearby hi-rise office dwellers that it’s the most beautiful roof in town!

    June 19, 2012
  2. Louis Cook #

    I work for the Water Department, and I was wondering if we could have permission to use the photo at the top. It’s really perfect for some of our outreach pieces.


    January 23, 2013
    • We are happy to have the Water Department use our photos! When possible, please credit Roofmeadow when you do.

      January 23, 2013

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