Sharp Memorial Hospital Green Roof

Posted in green roof, Jobsite Photos, Site Visit on August 21, 2012

Completed in 2010, the Sharp Memorial Hospital Green Roof in San Diego, California gives patients housed in the new wing at Sharp a much better view. What was once a bleak, industrialized smattering of pumps, tubes and mechanical equipment covering the emergency-room rooftop is now a unique, modern and organic green-roof design. Nature and greenery can help people heal, and Sharp Healthcare was forward-thinking enough to put the findings into practice and transform their roof into a healing environment for patients.


The green roof was created in order to bring joy and assist in the healing process of patients recovering from illness. Under contract with Sharp Health Care, Schmidt Design Group, Inc. provided design and final construction drawings for a green roof at the newly constructed Sharp Memorial Hospital. In response to the linear context of the space, plus the fact that the roof is not accessible to patients and mostly viewed from above, the landscape architects decided to use the design to depict a staff of music representing the first few bars of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony “Ode to Joy” when viewed from above. The 5,000 square foot green roof includes both living and inert materials and uses raised planters, trees, and ground-covers. Music lovers can easily pick up on the pattern and the discovery makes for a fun surprise during a patient’s sometimes challenging recovery period

Beyond the aesthetic and health benefits of a green roof, the design team noted several environmental perks as well. Green roofs can prevent water pollution by reducing the amount of storm water entering sewer systems by slowing it down and filtering it; lower energy use and energy costs; lowering air temperatures to mitigate the urban heat-island effect; clean and oxygenate the air; add biodiversity; mitigate noise; suppress fire; and extend the lifespan of the roof.  The design team, the installer, and rooflite technical team worked closely to ensure that the maximum saturated bulk densities of the green roof soil would be appropriate for the client’s healthcare building, with careful consideration of dynamic loads and seismic safety elements.

GreenScaped Buildings installed a built-up vegetated roofing assembly and planted with a combination of sedum tiles and plugs typical of extensive green roofs. The “note” planters are filled with agaves and yuccas providing a particular southern Californian landscape accent, and surrounding trellis planters contain trailing rose with geranium underplantings. The backdrop includes square planters with mesquite trees with rosemary underneath. With a space nestled between the hospital’s main entrance, ER entrance and roundabout for ambulance, loading zone and entry in the parking structure; staging space for the installation was extremely tight and operating a front end loader and two days of a crane took precise coordination and extra safety measures.  The rooflite team assisted with logistical coordination and consulted on material handling techniques for the largest volume component of the project – 2 flatbed tractor trailers carrying super sacks of rooflite green roof media. rooflite extensive mc and rooflite drain were manufactured locally by West Coast Forest & Cinder Products, the area’s rooflite Regional Network production partner. Green roof installations are material handling puzzles, but when a music teacher felt well enough after her surgery to walk to the window, saw the surprising vegetation below instead of a barren roof, and actually recognize the song laid out below her; the entire project team knew they had helped create a wonderful healing garden for patients.



San Diego Architectural Foundation; Orchids and Onions

Schmidt Design Group video: Healing Properties of Nature

Schmidt Design Group Project Profile

GreenScaped Buildings Installation Profile


rooflite® certified green roof media products have been installed in over 700 projects and 6 Million square feet of thriving green roofs across the North American continent, including hospitals and healing gardens from coast to coast, with a track record unmatched.

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