Beyond the Build

Beyond the Build

Functional Green Space in the Concrete Jungle

Lately, we’ve been involved with several brownfield, adaptive reuse and urban redevelopment projects in city centers. Like many others, our city is experiencing an urban renaissance big enough for the Wall Street Journal to take note. Currently, we’re restoring a metropolitan theatre, redeveloping a 20-story hotel for conversation to apartments, and have several other projects on the radar.

The move towards a more urban environment has us thinking about ways to make downtown feel more inviting while increasing landscape survivability.

Urban plantings are tough because the compaction necessary to support hardscapes and pavement also makes it difficult for plantings to take root and thrive. We were interested to see Silva Cells in action at Auburn University’s Toomer’s Corner, the site of the infamous tree poisoning a few years back.

Silva Cells are a modular suspended pavement system that uses soil volumes to support growth and provide some onsite storm water management. (Learn more at

Think about the possibilities this simple technology holds for development, better landscape and along the way some help with storm water management. More green patches in the “concrete jungles,” cleaner air and storm water management to boot. Sounds like a triple win.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.