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Living and Learning Gardens

Explore PSU's new outdoor Green Lab at Shattuck Hall

The new garden known as the Shattuck Hall Ecological Learning Plaza at the corner of SW Broadway and College Street is a perfect place to sit on a sunny afternoon, but there’s a lot more to this outdoor space than meets the eye.

This outdoor research laboratory is home to two separate scientific experiments: a series of vertical growing systems ("living walls") and a steep-sloped green roof.

The vertical growing systems, set at different angles around the southern end of the Plaza, were designed and built by students in the Department of Architecture and the Green Building Research Lab. The walls were outfitted with several planting and irrigation systems by local firms, including Solterra, Nevue Ngan and Tournesol. Through a $40,000 grant from Metro, the regional government agency, and support from PSU, monitoring equipment powered by solar arrays are collecting data to research water usage, storm-water management, temperature and other important factors. Metro’s goal is to utilize and share this research as part of their continuing efforts to promote low-impact development practices throughout the Portland region. What's more, the data collected by the equipment will soon be made available on the Plaza's web site.

The experimental steep-sloped green roof at the northern end of the Plaza is a testing model that will inform the design and planting of a much larger steep-sloped green roof to be built atop the new Oregon Zoo Conservation Discovery Zone. Designed and built by PSU architecture and Green Building Research Lab students, the model in the Plaza features three bays, each with a different sub-structure. One is a steel terrace system designed by PSU students, another includes a commercial-grade substrate, and a third has soil only. A flow meter will provide information about water runoff, absorption and trans-evaporation of each system. The goal is to identify the system that retains plants and soil and allows for maximum absorption and minimal storm-water runoff. This test roof will be monitored for approximately two years before construction of the full-scale building begins.

The Plaza is enhanced by demonstration gardens featuring drought-resistant native and non-native plants, pervious cobblestone paving and innovative seating created by PSU architecture students. Stop by to see these experiments in progress!

Department of Architecture

Metro's article on the Plaza project