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The “M” Financial Living Roof

Articles: The “M” Financial Living Roof

"M" Financial living roof designed by Cistus. Photo: Sean Hogan

The one-half-block roof upon the "M" Financial building in Portland's Pearl District features an ever-changing display of colorful plants and texture visible from the surrounding high-rise condominiums and office towers. In designing the rooftop planting my general idea was to create a visually appealing landscape combining the visual benefits and low water needs of native plants with just enough additional moisture to maintain summer growth of some dramatic succulent species from the southwest.

Structural foam was used to elevate the planting areas out of low spots in the "flat" roof and gentle ridges of growing media—from 11 to 13 inches deep—radiate from just off-center to create a subtle sunburst pattern. Overly-hyped mat drainage products were forgone for a drainage system comprised of crushed scoria paths and perforated PVC pipe that channel water toward drains during winter storms.

In the deeper soil, Yucca rostrata and Y. schottii form symmetrical lines. Their dramatic rosette shapes are enough to create needed architecture but gra...

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