Take a Walk on the Largest Green Roof in New York City, Have Lunch & Learn ~ at The Javits Center




Render showing the completed expansion of the facility. Photo credit from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office, June 2020

Did you know that the Javits Center holds free tours of its green roof? The 6.75 acre area is one of the largest in the United States, and home to twenty-seven species of birds, five bat species, thousands of honeybees, and a sanctuary for area wildlife. Come along on our 2019 tour, or take advantage of the new program, Lunch + Learn at The Farm.

The Green Roof at Jacob K. Javits Center in April, 2019

Reaching the fourth-floor green roof from a short flight of stairs, visitors are met with almost seven acres of ground cover, surrounded by all the new construction in Hudson Yards, and the Hudson River to the West. The Sedum (ground cover) which has a depth of only about an inch, can absorb up to seven million gallons of storm water run-off annually, and at the same time, it reduces the heat throughout the building.

The Javits Center was built by the State of New York in 1986, designed by I.M. Pei ~ a looming 1,800 square-foot space encased in all black windows and often referred to as Darth Vader because of the deadly effect the reflecting glass had on the local bird population. In 2009, with the help of a hotel room tax, netting some $500 million, all the glass was replaced with translucent pixelated glass (below), reducing bird collisions.

close-up of the new translucent glass windows ~ up close you can see the dots ~ and so can the birds

The facility embarked on a major renovation in 2010, which included the new roof as well as other operational efficiencies, and the Javits Center green roof installation was officially completed in October 2014. It is the second largest green roof on a single, free-standing building in the United States (The largest is at Ford Motor Company)

Today, the Javits Center green roof has become a haven for birds, and in 2014, the Javits Center began a partnership with New York City Audubon and Fordham University graduate students, who that year, observed twenty-nine different bird species. They visit the roof twice a week as part of the partnership, tagging and tracking the growing population of birds, species and nests.

“The other species we have seen are there to forage or to loaf (rest) and the Javits Center has installed kestrel boxes to encourage them to nest,” said Dr. Susan Elbin, Director of Conservation and Science at the New York City Audubon.

In addition to the growing bird population, the green roof became home to honeybees in 2017. Beginning with three honeybee hives, the Center now has ten hives and about 160,000 bees feeding from the green roof and from the nearby High Line and Hudson River Park. The honey, labeled Jacob’s Honey, is harvested and used in a new salad dressing, now available at the Taste NY Bistro on Level 2.

Image via market.javitscenter.com

“Jacob’s Honey is part of the award-winning sustainability program at the Javits Center that has reduced energy consumption throughout the building while transforming it into a wildlife sanctuary. The bottled honey will be distributed to customers in an effort to promote our evolving sustainability program.”

“The success of our sustainability program epitomizes our rebirth as an organization, and this first batch of honey illustrates how far we have come in our efforts to reduce energy, create a wildlife haven and improve the quality of life in our neighborhood,” said President and CEO Alan Steel.

“This is such an exciting project that exemplifies the smart, sustainable upgrades to the Javits Center over the years and showcases the many possibilities of urban agriculture,” said State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball.

Bat Box & Live Cam

Above, a series of Bat Boxes, and to the left, the Live Cam. Fordham University graduate students track the bat activity weekly, using a device positioned on the roof that picks up frequencies of these nocturnal creatures. At some point in the near future, there will be a live Bee Cam overlooking the 9 rooftop farm bee hives.

In an October 2018 paper published by The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art Professor Joseph Cataldo and his team, the authors concluded the average amount of rainwater retained on the green roof is 77%.

“This particular green roof appears to be more than 18 times as cost-effective as a subsurface cistern would be for managing an equivalent volume of stormwater in Midtown Manhattan.” ~ 2018, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science Art.

Green roof covered in Sedum, one inch deep

Above, a close-up of the ground cover, Sedum, a low-lying rock plant that turns red and orange in the fall.

From the 4th floor green roof, overlooking the Hudson River

Above view overlooking the Hudson River to the West, toward New Jersey.

Bones can be seen on the walkway between the Sedum

Above, a sampling of bones (bird dinner) found along the roof walkways.

New construction taking the Javitz Center to 40th Street

The current green roof of the Javits Center runs from 34th Street to 38th Street. Above and below, images of Javits Center new $1.5 billion expansion, which will enlarge the footprint of the building to 40th Street, adding 100,000 square feet of new and permanent exhibitions spaces, for a combined total of nearly 1 million square feet. The new construction will include, among other things, a magnificently large ballroom and conference rooms. As visitors come up the new escalator, the wall facing the green roof will be glass, allowing for the spectacular view of the roof garden that we see today.

View of new construction

The new expansion will also include a new garden on its roof, growing fruits and vegetables, much akin to a  farm, which will be managed by the well-know Brooklyn Grange.

april 24 2019

Below is an awesome rendering of the project from above. When completed, the roof desk will span over 22,000 square feet, providing up to 1,500 people with views overlooking the Hudson River and new Jersey.

Render showing the completed expansion of the facility. Photo credit from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office, June 2020

The green roof has proven to lower the temperature by 1.9 degrees, with a 10 degree difference between the roof and the concrete sidewalk on the street, four-floors below.

Down below, the tour takes visitors through a restricted area of the Center that houses thousands of tables, chairs, carpets, lighting, and all manor of related accoutrements, as well as the Center’s I. T. Hub, which was established after Hurricane Sandy when the first floor of the Javits Center was destroyed. The Javits Center invested $20 million in technology. Now located on the fourth floor, the I. T. Hub oversees services for about 70,000 devices within the six-block structure of the Center.

Register Here for the Javits Center’s Green Roof Tour ~ it’s free. Wear your sneakers and be prepared to walk up a few levels of stairs. Bring your camera ~ the view is awesome. The entrance is located 655 West 34th Street ~ the entrance is on 34th Street, not far from the Hudson River.

While visitors are all consumed with the beauty and usefulness of the Javits Center Green Roof, it should also be noted that as part of the recent renovation, the Center installed more than 100 energy-efficient HVAC units, new energy-efficient lighting and new recycling containers throughout the facility. The facility also is home to a cutting-edge energy dashboard that allows designated engineers and employees to monitor consumption levels for electric, gas and water. The Javits Center has achieved LEED Silver certification.

Below – the new one-acre farm on the 8th floor of Javits Center.

An exciting new luncheon event series that provides guests with a tour of our one-acre rooftop farm while learning about the benefits of sustainable building and dining on cuisine created with our very own homegrown produce! Lunch + Learn at the Farm.

While you’re there, check out the artwork in the Hudson Yards #7 subway station ~ The Shed and The Vessel ~ and the High Line Plinth.

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