Rooftop gardens are a "Mercy" for staff and patients
A view from above of two of the roof gardens at Mercy Hospitals' new Bunting Center.
Photos courtesy of Mercy Medical Center
Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center unveils its new, state-of-the-art, in-patient tower this week, and the project is crowned with three rooftop gardens that will provide patients and staff a bit of tranquility in the midst of illness and city noise.
"I refer to it as a spiritual oasis," said Dr. Kathy Helzlsouer of Mercy, who oversees the well-being of breast cancer patients. "That's true for patients and their families, or staff. You just need a break and nice environment."
Two of the gardens, atop the 8th and 9th floors of the new Bunting Center, are beautifully designed with trees, shrubs, flowering plants, turf grass, stone paths, a fountain, a pergola and lighting. The gardens are dotted with boulders and surrounded by beds of smooth stones. These two are open to staff and patients. A third garden, atop the 10th floor, is not open to the public, but can be seen from a waiting room.
"The message here is that Mercy decided to stay downtown and in doing so they lost any green space that might have had to do what hospitals are trying to do, which is connect patients to nature," said Catherine Mahan of Mahan Rykiel Associates, which designed and installed the gardens.
"It turned out to be a great decision because they were also able to capture these terrific views of the city," she said.
Workmen were busy planting this week, in time for Thursday's media tour, and the wind was biting. Water from the fountain had actually frozen. In the spring, the gardens will have moveable tables and chairs so the patients and staff can visit or share meals.
The rooftop gardens serve two purposes, of course. They contribute to the cooling of the $400 milllion structure and to the speedy recovery of patients. Such gardens are a proven benefit in both areas, especially in fostering a sense of well-being in patients.
Stephen Kelly, project manager, said the gardens will cool, or retain heat in, the floors they cover saving approximately 30 percent of the energy costs for those areas. They cover about 17,500 square feet, or half of the roof space on the medical center. The gardens will also increase the life of the roof, which will not be subject to damaging freeze/thaw cycles.
An underground irrigation system has been installed for each garden, but the beds have been planted with drought-resistant plants native to Maryland - the better to survive a Maryland August. And the gardens will also collect storm water and filter it before it flows into the sewer system and, ultimately the Chespeake Bay.
The early stages of one of Mercy Hospital's new rooftop gardens.
For a plant list, keep reading!
Specimen tree: Styrax japonicus "Japanese Snowbell"
Shade trees: Acer rubrum ‘Armstrong’ red maples
Flowering trees: Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’ Serviceberry.
Shrubs: Clethra alnifolia 'Hummingbird’ or Hummingbird Summersweet; Fothergilla gardenii or Dwarf Fothergilla; and Itea virginica, 'Little Henry' or Little Henry Sweetspire; Prunus laurocerasus "Otto Luyken" or Otto Luyken Cherry Laurel, and Leucotheoe fontanesiana 'Nana' or Compact Drooping Leucothoe.
Perennials: Heuchera micrantha ‘Plum Pudding,' or Plum Pudding Coral Bells; Bergenia cardifolia or Heartleaf Bergenia; Helleborus hybridus or Lenten Rose; Liriope spicata "Silver Dragon" or Silver Dragon Lilyturf, and Sedum kamtschaticum or Kamschatka Stonecrop.
And vines: Clematis ternifolia or Sweet Autumn Clematis and Parthenosissus tricuspidata or Boston Ivy.
And finally, almost 2,400 square feet of sod.