« Back to Sustainability

Central Library - Garden Roof System; Tulsa, OK

Tulsa City-County Library
Go to Website

Problem Statement

The reflecting pools at Central Library were installed during the original 1964 construction. By 1965, it was realized the pools were not sufficiently waterproofed. The pools were located over underground parking, and water leaking from the pools caused damage to automobile paint and also dripped on the library customers. Drain pans were then installed at the lower level parking directly underneath the reflecting pools. Over the years, the pools became the victims of problematic behavior. The two pools contained an approximate total of 5,000 gallons of water which had to be drained and refilled regularly. An additional 20 gallons per day leaked and evaporated. The decision was finally made to permanently drain the pools. The pool surfacing subsequently cracked, heaved and became quite an eyesore.


This project entailed the reclamation of the abandoned reflecting pools. Garden systems not only beautify an urban environment, they provide oxygen and help mitigate the urban heat island effect. This also presented an aesthetic manner in which to remedy the leaking into the parking area beneath the pools.


Installation of the garden roof system has had many benefits. We have reduced energy demands by not operating the pool filters and pumps. Also, water consumption has been reduced to a mere fraction of previous amounts. This has also been a very aesthetically pleasing addition to the plaza between Central Library and the Tulsa County District Courthouse. Of course, this type of solution is not restricted to library applications and we have received inquiries from other entities seeking remediation of similar problems.

The project was financed with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, administered by the EPA and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. It was completed last fall and educational programming is currently under development.