Another wonderful thing about this green roof is the graphic punch of its colorful stripes. The exact alignment of horizontal crop rows and flower beds with vertical facades present a case study in artistic minimalism and practical sustainability. Plastic lumber made from recycled milk cartons frames the planters; recycled-tire pavers surface the paths. Cylindrical metal skylights protrude from the gym and café like abstract sculptures in a modernist parterre, syncopating the regular rhythm underfoot.
Speaking to youngsters and staff at the Center in May, 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama praised, “this thriving, inspiring, beautiful place, just minutes from where I grew up.” She cited the many educational opportunities available there for the pursuit of fresh interests and future careers, from broadcasting and culinary arts to politics. “If you want to be a scientist,” she said, “then get up on top of that roof and start studying those plants and working in that garden . . . which, by the way, is more than five times bigger than the garden at the White House. I’m not hating on you, but you’ve got us far outmatched.”