work underway on a water-discharge structure we designed for poor soil conditions
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bog built on college roof

bog built on college roof
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Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Minneapolis, Minnesota

ecosystem project showcases nature and engineering

Barr worked with a local artist to design and build a self-contained 16-foot by 24-foot bog atop an entrance canopy of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Before work began, we performed a structural analysis of the roof to alleviate concerns about possible damage to the structure as well as public safety issues. Installation of a new roof membrane prevented possible leaks.

Creating and sustaining a moisture-loving plant community in the desert conditions on a roof posed challenges related to water sources, circulation, evaporation rates, and pH balance. To keep the plants in two inches of water, we used a custom cistern to collect the building’s stormwater runoff and recirculate it to the bog using a solar pump, with city water as a backup.

The project team oversaw the installation of blueberry shrubs, tamarack trees, and over 30 different species of plants—all harvested from an area threatened by a new utility corridor. Funded by a grant from the McKnight Foundation, the bog showcases the team’s ability to create a natural ecosystem in an unnatural urban environment.

  Click here to view a 9-minute video of the design and construction of the MCAD bog.