Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tom Suter Creates Beauty “Up on the Roof”

"When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it's peaceful as can be
And there the world below can't bother me..."

From the song "Up on the Roof" by Gerry Coffin and Carole King

In early July a dedication ceremony was held in an unlikely location: the rooftop of a two-story storefront at the corner of Marconi and Bischoff in the Hill neighborhood of the city. Attending was St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. The roof was blessed by Father Vincent Bommarito of St. Ambrose Church. Holding court on a corner of the roof was Hill "royalty", Rich LoRusso of LoRusso's Cucina restaurant, which catered the event.

Tom Suter Creates Beauty “Up on the Roof”

So what brought Mayor Slay, Father Bommarito, and Rich LoRusso up on the roof? Sustainability, technology, and heck of a view all came into play. Tom Suter of Shield Systems, Inc. has transformed the building's roof into a garden with a sculpture, flowers, and herbs.

Suter has been an architectural representative in the St. Louis area for 30 years, specializing in moisture protection. His product lines include below-grade waterproofing, sealers for masonry and concrete, waterproofing systems for plaza decks and garden roofs, traffic membrane systems for concrete exposed to vehicular or pedestrian traffic and a full range of exterior and interior expansion joints.

About nine years ago Suter bought a boarded-up tavern in the Hill neighborhood. Doing much of the work himself, he has restored the building into offices for his own company, a salon, a caterer, and two apartments on the second floor. The rooftop garden was created as both a demonstration center for the green roof system developed by CETCO, a line that Suter reps, and as a tenant amenity.

The lightweight assembly allows the 2" X 12" roof timbers to carry five inches of lightweight growing medium. The first task in installing the green roof system was to remove the existing built-up roof and add decking to receive CETCO hot, rubberized, fluid-applied CETCO waterproofing. Ninety mils of hot rubber membrane was reinforced with scrim cloth. A second coat of hot rubber at 125 mils was then applied and a protection course was placed in the curing rubber.

To increase energy efficiency two inches of Dow Styrofoam was placed over the entire deck area. On the non-garden area, CETCO pedestals were then used to level the deck area. In the pathway areas, precise Wausau pavers were placed directly on the pedestals in a similar manner to that used for raised computer flooring.

On the garden sections of the roof a heavy polyethylene root block material was installed, followed by the Dow Styrofoam covered by a reinforced scrim to help with loading.
CETCO Aquadrain — an eggcrate-shaped material with cups that collect and store irrigation and rain water — was then placed on top of the scrim and covered with four inches of engineered soil, a lightweight material filled with organics.

Tom Suter Creates Beauty “Up on the Roof”

"From an educational viewpoint I wanted a living a garden and an exhibit to be able to show architects and owners CETCO Greenscapes roof systems," Suter said. "And I wanted my tenants to be able to enjoy the space."

Suter said that the both the commercial and residential tenants appreciate the views and quiet afforded by the garden. The herbs grown on the roof are used in preparing food for the catering business.

A plaque on the roof dedicates the garden to Suter's mother, Theresa Suter, who died a short time before the dedication ceremony.