John Gaines Pool House Green Roof

This green roof — which was designed by Wildflower Center staff and planted in the Center’s own SkySystem™ growing medium — tops a bathing pavilion at John Gaines Park in Austin’s mixed-use Mueller development. It features succulents such as prickly pear (Opuntia ellisiana), red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) and manfreda (Manfreda maculosa) as well as bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) and other native wildflowers. The green roof is split into two planted portions totaling 1,200 square feet.

The parts of the roof that aren’t green form an inverted, butterfly shape that funnels rainwater directly into cisterns, achieving completely off-grid irrigation. Architect Lauren Woodward Stanley says, “The cisterns were designed to be a showcase piece of the project … offering a visual narrative to all visitors about collecting and directing rainwater.”

She also notes that the entire project went on hiatus with the 2008 economic downturn, but the “forward-thinking” developers understood the value of a green roof and eventually returned to it. “It’s not the cheapest way to roof a project to be sure,” says Stanley, “so green roofs need to be sold as multi-valent features that … offer both private and public benefits.”

Stanley began collaborating with the Wildflower Center after attending an on-site lecture by the late Dr. Mark Simmons, former director of research and consulting at the Center, on using an experimental foam layer on green roofs. This introduction ultimately led to their collaboration on the pool house at John Gaines Park.

Planting took place in late 2015.


Wildflower Center Living Architecture Projects
Installing a Sky Garden


2703 Sorin St.
Austin, TX 78723


Discover the Native Plants of North America