A 13,000-square-foot healing garden provides sanctuary and peace.

Rooftop Retreat

The healing power of nature

At the new Kaufman Cancer Center in Bel Air, Maryland’s Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, patients, and their loved ones can find respite on the hospital’s rooftop, where a 13,000-square-foot healing garden provides sanctuary and peace. According to lead project designer Steve Kelly of Mahan Rykiel Associates, the main goal was “the creation of a healing environment and a place for stress reduction.”

The multi-functional garden offers myriad ways for patients to recharge. Secluded fountains promote contemplation, and a labyrinth is a reflective space for people to walk through. Adjacent to it, a water wall of smooth granite and rough, tactile fieldstone provides a focal point. Small, themed gathering spaces include a shade garden, a grotto and a sensory garden with plants specifically chosen for their scents and textures. An open lawn can be used for classes and special events.

“The challenge was providing flexibility to meet different people’s needs,” says Kelly. “The garden allows people to be together or alone, as they prefer.”

For Live Green Landscape Associates, which implemented the garden, the rooftop location was the tough part. “With no conventional access, everything was hard to get to,” recalls Live Green president Michael Martin. Some 1,200 tons of soil had to be transported, plantings were craned onto the roof and free-floating concrete forms were employed to pour concrete.

The healing garden has received numerous awards, including a Landscape Contractor of the Year grand award and a Planet Award from the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: Steve Kelly, PLA, lead project designer, Mahan Rykiel Associates, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland. LANDSCAPE INSTALLATION: Michael Martin, Live Green Landscape Associates, Owings Mills, Maryland.