According to a recent report from CBS News, the Jacob Javits Center in New York City has installed a rooftop green oasis the size of nearly five football fields.
The 17-story building, which was once one of the leading causes of bird deaths in NYC due to its windows, is now home to one of the largest rooftop sanctuaries in the city — and bird deaths are down nearly 90%. By replacing the blacktop roof, which would absorb 85-95% of the heat and energy from the sun, with a roof made of soil, grass and shrubs, the building has saved 25% on heating and cooling costs.
Susan Elbin, head of the New York City Audubon Society, said, “When I am walking around up here, like right now even, I have a hard time believing I am on a roof in New York City. I feel like I am in a meadow somewhere.”
Javits Center CEO Alan Steel remarked on the contrast between the building’s steely exterior and the softness and wonder of the rooftop garden. “It’s one of the reasons I love to bring people up here,” he said. “Because it’s not something they expect to see. It’s not something they expect of a convention center.”
The rooftop is home to many different bird resting spots, beehives, and areas where local students can study are weather patterns. The center also made major renovations between 2009 and 2014 to replace the building’s opaque glass, installing more translucent windows to avoid additional bird deaths. Now the birds can be heard all over the center’s rooftop guarding, offering a peaceful escape for the building’s employees and city citizens alike.
Rick Brown, the building’s chief engineer for over 25 years, said, “We work up here every day, and you know, you go to work and it was just a job. Now it’s a job, but it’s a beautiful job.”