The downpour had stopped only moments before. What were the odds that the VIPs, in their suits and heels, would step out onto a possibly slippery and definitely damp rooftop?
In a swankier city the festivities would have ended after the green ribbon was cut, indoors, by a pair of shears wielded by the Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer. But this is Hartford and that kind of pretension is thankfully absent.
Yesterday afternoon, David McHale had the honor of symbolically opening the Connecticut Science Center’s rooftop garden for the 2012 season, for which Northeast Utilities with its $25,000 gift is its sponsor.
The garden has come a long way since the building opened three years ago. Like most gardens, it has transformed from being sparse and haphazard, to more robust and organized. Elements like the frog and turtle sculptures, along with “Pickles” — a compost bin designed to look like a pig — have made the garden more appealing to children. Michaela’s Garden is another part of the transformation. This addition is partly a living memorial and partly a project to encourage girls to pursue careers in science.
High-powered binoculars have been installed to provide visitors with a better glimpse of the Connecticut River. Planned enhancements include better signage explaining how the garden is divided into zones– shade, alpine, xeriscape, and a sensory garden. A garden map and guide will be created. There are plans for the addition of a water feature and seating. Tracy Shirer of the Connecticut Science Center says although the details still need to be ironed out, there is the possibility of stargazing activities on the rooftop.
Besides looking pretty and providing educational opportunities for children, the green space helps insulate the floors below, says Matt Fleury, President & CEO of the Connecticut Science Center, which is a recipient of Gold-level LEED certification. The rooftop garden also provides water filtration; its use of native plants significantly reduces irrigation needs.
This is not the only building in Connecticut, or even Hartford, with a green roof. In Downtown, the Hollander Building has received LEED certification for its green roof, along with other environmentally-friendly features. In Berlin, the Northeast Utilities building has solar panels, a reflective white membrane, and sedum.
The Connecticut Science Center’s rooftop garden is accessible during regular hours, weather-permitting, with General Admission.
Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford.
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