Run For the Hills: Rafael Viñoly Designs the World’s Largest Green Roof in California

Paul Keskeys Paul Keskeys

There are no shortage of spectacularly designed green roofs out there, as a trip through Architizer’s archives will attest, but California’s Cupertino valley may soon be home to the most epic of them all. Rafael Viñoly Architects has proposed a radical renovation of the city’s failed Vallco Shopping Mall, including a 30-acre “sky park” on the roof that would be the world’s largest.

The Hills at Vallco will comprise a vast, mixed-use complex covering 15 city blocks in Cupertino, including some 625,000 square feet of retail space, two million square feet of offices, and 800 residences. Working in collaboration with Olin Landscape Architects, Viñoly wants to unify this sprawling program with an undulating blanket of public open space, incorporating a plethora of amenities from orchards and vineyards to play parks and hiking trails.

Developers Sand Hill Property Co. revealed the three-billion-dollar plans last week, stating their ambitious intent for the site. “After we bought Vallco, we said, let’s not to do a run-of-the-mill project,” commented Sand Hill principal and founder Peter Pau in an interview earlier this week. “Why would we bother? We’re looking at a unique situation, and we have to do something unique.”

Rafael Viñoly’s renders for the scheme illustrates an elevated park on such a huge scale that it more closely resembles an area of open countryside rather than an urban rooftop. This feature of the project constitutes an unparalleled challenge combining landscape design and engineering: according to Sand Hill, it is more than twice as large as anything attempted before.

The project is expected to achieve a LEED Platinum rating for energy efficiency. If approved, the Hills at Vallco will be the second globally significant “green” project to be developed in Cupertino in recent times. This Silicon Valley location will soon be home to Foster + Partners’ stratospherically large Apple Campus, currently under construction and set for completion next year.

Paul Keskeys Author: Paul Keskeys
Paul Keskeys is Editor in Chief at Architizer. An architect-trained editor, writer and content creator, Paul graduated from UCL and the University of Edinburgh, gaining an MArch in Architectural Design with distinction. Paul has spoken about the art of architecture and storytelling at many national industry events, including AIANY, NeoCon, KBIS, the Future NOW Symposium, the Young Architect Conference and NYCxDesign. As well as hundreds of editorial publications on Architizer, Paul has also had features published in Architectural Digest, PIN—UP Magazine, Archinect, Aesthetica Magazine and PUBLIC Journal.
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