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Green Space Inspired by Nature

Written by Jane Trabert Schmitt
Imagery by Sandra Kicman

High atop the shimmering headquarters building of Delaware North is an unexpected delight: landscaped terraces on the 12th floor that offer employees a nature-rich respite from the busy workday.

    Plant life is everywhere, from ornamental grasses to flowering shrubs and even trees. Here, just steps from their desks, employees of the global hospitality and food service company can  “get back to nature,”  if you will, while enjoying spectacular views of the City of Buffalo skyline.
    The benefits go beyond pure aesthetics. Indeed, study after study reveal the positive effects of plants in the work environment: reduced stress, increased productivity, improved attitudes, a sense of well-being, lower absenteeism and more.
    “You have this beautiful view and beautiful landscaping,” said Dan Zimmer, the company’s vice president of corporate finance and development. “Our garden areas add an extra layer of vitality to the space – this ability to be outside. It’s something we didn’t have in our previous building. People really enjoy being able to come outside to have a cup of coffee, check their email or just relax.”
    This was a key design feature when Delaware North decided to move its world headquarters from North Street to 250 Delaware Avenue. A state-of-the-art building replaced the two-story structure that had been there for many years but Diamond Schmitt Architects of Toronto replicated the dramatic curved facade and original terra cotta elements of the older building. The end result was a transformational project in downtown Buffalo, a modern high-rise with environmentally sustainable features and an anticipated LEED Silver certification.
    Designing a rooftop garden in Northern climes is no small task, so the company turned to professional landscape architects including Jennifer Lee Fedeson of F&S Design Studio, and Drew Langston of A-1 Land Care Inc. and Stone Landscape Architecture.
    A carefully selected “plant palette,” as they described it, includes stonecrop, creeping sedum, astilbe, blue yucca, lavender and mugo pines. A spacious terrace located just off the corporate boardroom, meanwhile, features flowering serviceberry trees. Outdoor heaters and stone pavers equipped with a snow-melt system make the space accessible practically year-round.
    “We always look at seasonality and different flowering times to try to keep interest up,” Fedeson said.  “These (garden) areas help people de-stress. It’s a great way to get outside and recharge.”
    Get this: Since the building was a beehive of activity during the general construction period, Langston arranged for the plant installation, which started in April 2016, to be done after
regular business hours. His crew would work through the evening and some nights didn’t leave the 12th floor until 3 a.m.!
    “I think it came out phenomenally,” he said. “It’s pretty impressive when you think about getting all the materials up there. It was a big undertaking.”
    Delaware North’s  “green roof”  was the first such project in Western New York for Fedeson, but it’s a trend whose time has come.
    “This was hopefully our first of many,” she added.  

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