Sunday, November 6, 2011 Projects - Cuartel de Ballajá (Ballajá Infantry Barracks Building)

Project Name: Cuartel de Ballajá (Ballajá Infantry Barracks Building)
Year: 2011
Owner: Oficina de Conservacion Historica
Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA
Building Type: Commercial
Type: Extensive & Intensive
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 24000 sq.ft.
Slope: 2%
Access: Accessible, Open to Public
Submitted by: David Aponte, PR Green Design, Inc.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:
Architect/Designer: Edmundo Colon, ECO Architecture
Green Roof Specialist: David Aponte, MSCE, GRP, PR Design Group, Inc.
General Contractor: Jorge Castellano, WTI Inc.
Waterproofing Contractor: WTI, Inc.
Waterproofing Material: Durolast
Green Roof Contractor: PR Design Group, Inc.
Green Roof System: rooflite Drainage w\ rooflite Growing Media
Plant Providers: Saul Nurseries, Palma Roja Nursery, EHR
Plant Consultants: Ed Snodgrass, David Aponte, Sigfredo Faria and Karen Amador
Structural Engineer: MFS Consulting Engineers

El Cuartel de Ballaja (The Ballaja Infantry Barracks Building) was constructed by the Spanish army between 1854 and 1864. The structure is one of the most impressive constructed by Spain in the New World and it stands as the last example of monumental military architecture by the Spanish Monarchy in the Americas. Its spacious interior patio is one of the best examples of 19th century Spanish architecture. Used until 1898 as infantry barracks and permanent housing for approximately a thousand soldiers, it consisted of rooms for officers, solders and their families, storage, kitchens, dining rooms, jail cells and stables for horses. The ascending vaulted gothic ceilings above the main staircase are unique in Puerto Rico. This important historic resource built for military purposes, has evolved with the passage of time becoming a cultural center, rendering tribute to Puerto Rico's rich cultural heritage. The Cuartel de Ballajá occupies a space of 7,700 square meters, on three floors around a vast courtyard.

Today, the Ballajá Barracks houses several educational and cultural organizations, namely the Museo de Las Américas, on the second floor of the building since 1992. On the first floor, there are music and dance schools, a library, among other uses. When updating the structure, the client, "Oficina de Conservacion Historica" represented by Architect Carlos Rubio, envisioned a sustainable and iconic historic building in the Old San Juan district.

The extensive green roof was part of several "green intervention" projects done to the Cuartel de Ballajá, including a 151.2 KW PV system with 720 solar panels. Completed on October 10, 2011, the new 24,000 sf green roof was designed by the Architect Edmundo Colon with the help of GRP David Aponte.

This extensive green roof project was built using the following materials: 60 mil PVC waterproofing system (Durolast), a 16 oz. protective mat, 2" of rooflite drain w/ drain channels, filter fabric, 4" average of rooflite growing medium and 60,000 plants that vary from plugs to 6" pots. The project took 5 months to complete.

In addition, the green roof has several rest areas which were created to appreciate the view of the San Felipe del Morro Fort and the San Jose Church. The green roof also has greenwalls and an artificial wetland built to manage higher roof storm water amounts, which is used on a needed basis as the supplemental irrigation system.

On an environmental note, Hurricane Irene passed over the island of Puerto Rico during construction in late August, leaving more than 15" of rain and sustaining winds between 60 to 80 MPH. No harm was done to the roof.

Additional thumbnail photos:

The Cuartel de Ballajá is located at Calle Beneficencia, San Juan 00926, Puerto Rico; visit the website. See the MFS Consulting Engineers profile here. Learn about the following companies in The Greenroof Directory: rooflite; Saul Nurseries; and Green Roof Plants (Ed Snodgrass as consultant). For more information on the Cuartel de Ballajá project, please contact David Aponte of PR Green Design at: 787.529.6612 or