Roof Garden

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The roof garden began in an informal way back in 1995 through the efforts of Property Manager, Mike Moody, a plant aficionado and seasoned gardener. Already a treasured gathering space for tenants, it has evolved into a 6,500 square foot cedar deck, resplendent with flowers, vines and bushes – many of which have been grown from seed - and a lush blanket of sedum that covers close to 3,000 square feet of roof beyond the deck. There are also a number of large planters that hold trees and perennial shrubs that winter over on the roof. This fabulous outdoor space offers a downtown view that includes the CN Tower.

"In a building where the creative arts flower, perhaps it's fitting that the once-sterile roof is flowering as well. What's even more incredible is that this lush, verdant oasis has been achieved by one man - not a horticulturalist, but a building manager with a newly minted green thumb - in less than 10 years" Canadian Gardening Magazine, Summer 2004

In the fall of 2000, a 40 foot greenhouse was installed to provide winter shelter for large tropical plants and to act as a nursery to start spring/summer annuals from seeds that were collected the season before. The greenhouse provides an early start to the growing season and a stunning collection of blooms in early Spring.

The roof garden cedar deck provides an additional air pocket over part of the third floor roof, which not only helps to protect the roof membrane from freeze-thaw stretching but provides a layer of winter insulation for the suites underneath. Similarly, the roof garden deck and plants provide summer shade which serves to cool the studios that lie directly beneath.

The trees and shrubs in the roof garden also work to mitigate air pollution by trapping particulates and absorbing gaseous emissions that arise from the busy streets surrounding the building. Similarly, the many plants trap and hold rainfall that prevents polluted stormwater runoff from leaving part of the building roof. Socially, the roof garden affords a great benefit to our tenants throughout the year.

"If you think a guy can't grow things on the roof, you've never seen my eaves and you have never been on top of 401 Richmond. It is Eden minus the snake up there" Joe Fiorito, The Globe and Mail, May 2002

The roof garden is a relaxing destination for tenants at 401 Richmond. It provides an interesting meeting place for lunch breaks, celebrations, or just a place to relax in the oasis of greenery – it is truly rejuvenating. People enjoy the quiet relief from urban noise pollution, as the trees and plants provide insulation from street noise as well as necessary shade.

Shade cloth over the pergola, that holds many hanging baskets, trees and shrubs, also provides a respite from the hot sun for guests as they sit among the many natural colours and green elements. Mike and his team have put many hours into the hand-watering and care of the garden plants - with an overall effort that is appreciated and rewarding for all involved.

Mike works year round to ensure that the garden is a marvel in all seasons – but particularly spring, summer and fall. The plants and flowers in the roof garden are selected for beauty, aroma and their ability to attract bees, butterflies, ladybugs, birds, and other insects. And they do! This is an encouraging sign that Mike's organic gardening practices are paying off. Mike has also at times grown a variety of organic vegetables on the roof including peas, red cabbage, and tomatoes which have been used by our on-site café.

Extensive Green Roof

In September 2005, another 2,600 square feet of roof garden was added covering a blank roof top to the east of the deck. This new piece of greenery is an extensive green roof - quite different from the existing boxes of flowers and shrubs. Rather than being perched atop a cedar deck, this installation goes directly on to the rooftop creating a carpet of succulent sedum plants.

Extensive green roofs are light weight and easily installed. This new garden provides a lovely extension to the roof garden and adds to the sense of being in a natural landscape despite it's height from the ground. There were also small 100 square foot green roofs installed on two of the existing heritage skylights showing that no roof is too small to green!

401 Richmond is pleased to feature this green technology as another means of acting locally to promote urban revitalization (environmental and social), tenant enjoyment, and heritage building conservation.

For more information on the extensive green roof click here.

Environmental Projects

Over the years, we have grown organic herbs and vegetables in an informal way as part of our on-going interest in urban agriculture. In seasons when we've been able to grow a decent amount of food, we were able to create a food loop. Vegetables from the garden were being used in the café on the ground floor, the café would then contribute organic scraps to our compost bins, which would feed the vegetables and on it went. We're currently experimenting with various containers for growing and are looking forward to seeing the results.

This is the third year that we're hosting a solitary bee condo in the garden as part of a research project through York University visit:

Urbanspace Property Group is the recipient of a 2008 Green Toronto Award for our roof garden at 401 Richmond St. W.


Green Roof By-Law

Green Toronto Awards

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities
Xero Flor Canada
Flynn Canada

Robertson Building - 215 Spadina Avenue
Mountain Equipment Coop
City Hall Podium Green Roof
Jackman Avenue Public School

Walk T.O.
Toronto Tree Tours
Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests + Jane's Walk

The Globe and Mail
newspaper includes 401 Richmond's roof garden in their list of unlikely summer oases READ ARTICLE

Glamour France talks about Toronto as a garden city and includes mentions of both 401 Richmond and 215 Spadina: DOWNLOAD PDF

Download a pdf of our roof garden information poster created for Doors Open Toronto click here.



Roof Garden

Roof garden looking east, summer 2006.

Vibrant Annuals

Vibrant zinnias and hanging baskets full of petunias.

Urban Oasis

The garden is a popular spot in summer for lunches, meetings, and relaxation.

Extensive Green Roof

The extensive green roof installed in late summer 2005. The application is a vast carpet of various succulent sedum plants.

Urban Agriculture Project

Red and green leaf lettuce grown on the roof as part of the urban agriculture project.

Flowering Shrubs

Many flowering bushes winter over on the roof and come to life in the spring.

Green Toronto Awards

Green Toronto Awards (left to right) Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, award sponsor Stantec's Michael Moxam, Urbanspace Property Manager Mike Moody, and Mayor David Miller.


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