What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wildness yet.
——Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Inversnaid” (1881)
So begins the plaque explaining the recent installation of a Tamarack Bog roof on an entry to the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD). The project is the vision of artist Christine Baeumler in collaboration with Barr Ecologist Fred Rozumalski and Barr Engineer, Vice President, Kurt Leuthold (Also a member/donor to Friends of Sax-Zim Bog).
Recently, my wife and I went to see the Bog Roof…And I must say, it is very cool. When viewed from street level the bog really stands out in stark contrast to the white concrete building, glass and parking lot. From the skywalk you can look down into the bog and you find that it actually has a pool in the middle. It really looks like a living, functioning bog complete with sphagnum and star moss, blueberries, Labrador Tea, cotton grass, and, of course, Tamaracks.
How do they do it? How can you have a healthy, thriving bog on top of an innercity roof? Well the answer is in the clever water recirculation system that Barr Engineering devised. A baffle on the bog pool controls the depth of the water, and the water that overflows goes down to a cistern and then is recirculated back up to the pond by way of a solar pump.
This project is a great reminder on how important bogs are to ecosystem water quality and flood water management. Check it out…MCAD is located just south of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.