US (PHL): A greenhouse on La Salle University's roof

La Salle University sits on a 133-acre campus in Northwest Philadelphia, and it is home to a unique array of wildlife and plant life, from redwoods and bamboo, to salamanders and red fox. Perhaps most surprising of all is the lab that is located on the roof of Holroyd Hall.

“It’s a best-kept secret in the sense that very few know about it, that’s for sure,” said Jim Church, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology at La Salle. “Whenever I mention it to my second-year students, they usually have no idea what I’m talking about.”

Renovations in 2008 transformed Holroyd Hall, both inside and out. The building’s roof was converted to a sustainable green roof that, among other ecological benefits, supports stormwater management, and the Holroyd Greenhouse was installed on the roof.

The Greenhouse serves as an academic and social space at La Salle. It is open year-round and accessible to all members of the La Salle community upon request. Succulents, cacti, ferns, and snake plants grow there now; in years past, orchids and vegetables have taken root on Holroyd’s roof.

“I had grown up on a farm, so I thought I could put my limited agricultural skills to some use,” said Olivia Weber, an environmental science major. “Having a hands-on green space accessible on campus, where students can tactilely learn life skills outside the classroom and nurture something to fruition, is invaluable. Finding safe, therapeutic pastimes is now more important than ever for students.”

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