Students Create Patio Garden for Community at Warren Towers
“When you come to BU, it’s really in the city. You definitely are lacking green space,” said Claire Richer (CAS ‘15). After taking a course in sustainable development last fall, she and classmate Andrew Cho (CAS ’16), set out to change that.
During the course, the two did a project that explored the benefits of green roofs. Cho, who is the president of Warren Towers’ RHA, told Richer about an unused patio space at Warren and the two began to wonder whether the space would be suitable for a green roof. While their findings eventually determined that a green roof at Warren Towers would not be feasible, they still wanted to find a productive use for the space.
Richer and Cho set a goal to create “a community green space where people could enjoy being outside but still in the dorm,” said Cho.
Since the patio had been closed off for years due to excessive noise and smoking, they would have to convince administrators that the space would be used as intended. They presented their idea for a garden on the patio to Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life, David Zamojski in the spring of 2013 and he was on board. Following their meeting with Dean Zamojski, they met with representatives from Housing and Facilities Management and Planning (FM&P) who were also supportive of their plan. As part of the plan, the RHA agreed to set aside a portion of their annual budget to fund the purchase of plants.
Because the project was rooted in creating a community space for students by students, it was important to get input from the students themselves about what they wanted to see on the patio. Cho and Richer sent a survey to all Warren residents to find out what was important to them and received overwhelmingly positive responses for the proposed green patio.
With the blessing of both the administration and the residents they put their plan into action. They worked with FM&P Grounds Manager Ray Bourgeois to select plants that were resilient and low maintenance. FM&P also donated all of the benches on the patio, an important part of making the space a viable place for students to gather.
All of the potted plants on the patio were planted by students as part of BU’s Global Day of Service on April 19th. Some of the new plants include golden falycypress, red twig dogwood, pansies, and miscanthus strictus grass. Students also plan to plant annuals when the weather gets warmer.
“People just liked the idea that it was a student project. When they came in they really enjoyed that they were a part in making it. It is a community project and not the administration coming in and helping us out,” said Cho, “Everyone was really enthusiastic, not all of them were from Warren so the word is out that this exists. Even [those] that were seniors were really excited to leave an impact.”
Cho and Richer hope they can make an impact as well. They hope that future generations will keep the garden going.
“There is definitely tons of room to improve. We have set a starting point; the garden can really grow from here. I think it will be really easy for future RHAs to really expand and add more plants,” said Richer.Assistant Director of Residence Life at Warren Towers, Corinna Cusson agrees. She believes it has great potential and could be used for a variety of activities such as floor meetings or monthly floor events by RAs.
“It will be a unique gathering space here at Warren. I look forward to seeing how organically it grows to be more of a community space.”