Chicago Senior Residential Projects Go Green

Green rooftopWhat's not to love about rooftop gardens and terraces in a quiet neighborhood just north of a major metropolitan downtown area? They serve many purposes, especially for a community of seniors in Lakeview, just 4 miles north of the Loop.

Everyone in Chicago seems to be going green these days. Not only was it recently ranked as the greenest U.S. city based on the number of LEED certified buildings, Chicago's City Hall itself boasts a rooftop garden. Now senior living residences are following suit, offering residents the luxuries of green relaxation while making for more efficient and connected buildings in their communities.

Greenview Place, located 1501 West Melrose St. in Chicago, had its grand opening on May 27. The community for residents ages 65 and up is made up of more than 100 studio and one-bedroom apartments in addition to "an 8,400-square-foot rooftop terrace, a spacious courtyard, sidewalk gardens plus a 9,000-square-foot green roof," according to Greenview's press release.

The green roof "prevents overcharging city sewer systems by holding rainwater, it reduces the urban heat island effect and it offers amazing neighborhood and Chicago skyline views to our residents," said Jeanmarie Kapp, COO of The Renaissance Companies, the property developer for Greenview Place and project manager for the residence.

She added that the 130,000-square-foot building was built with sustainable ideas and technologies in mind, and that Greenview was meant to be a building that fit into the larger residential neighborhood. While the residence is meant to be an "oasis" for seniors, it's also meant to keep them connected to the community around them.

That's why a pathway was built between Greenview and Saint Luke Academy, which is right down the block. Students are encouraged to enjoy the rooftop garden terrace while mingling with the residents there.

Green roofs and buildings are nothing new in Chicago, and building these eco-sensitive spaces for senior living is not much of a stretch. Todd Wiltse, an architect with Worn Jerabek Architects, the firm that partnered with The Renaissance Companies for Greenview Place, and that was responsible for City Hall's rooftop garden, said green projects for senior centers are pretty much the same as green initiatives for any other building type. He explains, "The major difference at Greenview Place was a concerted effort to make the green roof areas visible from the building's interior corridors and exterior terrace, so that seniors would be encouraged to go outside."

The benefits of green roofs in particular go far beyond mere aesthetics. They "form an integral part of the overall building design," according to Wiltse. "They enhance the experience of the residents while adding insulation value in winter, providing evaporative cooling in summer, and most critically, absorbing excess stormwater."

He added that green roofs in Chicago are becoming mainstream, and that the challenges for these projects going forward "are not technical, but rather bureaucratic and financial."

Worn Jerabek Architects' other senior living projects have green rooftops and initiatives as well.

Casa Maravilla, a senior living complex in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago completed by McShane Construction Company and The Resurrection Project, also boasts a green roof. It had its open house on May 27, the same day Greenview Place officially opened.

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