Aria Group has been designing restaurants for over 34 years, but we recently experienced unique challenges while working on Amy’s Drive Thru in Roseville, California. Partnering with a client committed to the environment and social well-being enabled us the opportunity to design a restaurant with a Living Roof. Amy’s is the first Certified B Corporation fast-food restaurant, leading the charge in vegetarian/plant-based options. “Certified B Corporations are leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy. Unlike other certifications for businesses, B Lab is unique in our ability to measure a company’s entire social and environmental impact.” – Bcorporation.net. This project strives to educate – showcasing its environmental and social concerns through its teamwork, commitment to climate concerns, and ultimately its design. The following is its story…
Progress photos of the living roof components
Designing a Restaurant with a Living Roof was made possible through collaboration with our client and many partners. Our team included: Amy’s Drive Thru, KDC Construction, Clarke and Reilly, Chestnut Company, MFSD+B, Henderson Engineering, Hart Gaugler & Associates, Kier + Wright, Camp & Camp Associates, Inc., and Symbios Ecotecture.
“The living roof at our Roseville Amy’s Drive Thru is not only beautiful – it also promotes a number of environmental benefits including reduced energy requirements, retention of stormwater on-site, habitat biodiversity and reduction of the heat island effect, just to name a few.” – Jason Dedmore, Director of Real Estate & Development at Amy’s Drive Thru, Inc.
A living roof offers many benefits to a building and the environment. The mass of the soil acts as a great insulator helping to regulate the buildings internal temperature. This allows for less heating or cooling and an overall lower energy bill. The return on investment varies per geographical region but Roseville offered a great opportunity for Amy’s.
Symbios Ecotecture installing the Living Roof.
The soil and plants absorb rainwater and hold it on site versus running off directly into the sewer system. Holding more rainwater onsite reduces strain on the sewer system leading to less flooding. This does create the need for a slightly larger structure to support the roof and more caution with waterproofing the building roof, but Aria worked with Amy’s to celebrate the resulting gabled structure by exposing it inside the dining room and celebrating the design on the interior.
Environmentally, the Living Roof also offers a reduction to the urban heat island effect. Higher temperatures in urban areas leads to higher cooling loads in buildings, increasing the carbon footprint, compounding the Climate Crisis.
Growing plants does take time — see below photos of the plants at restaurant opening and six months later. Plant selection is an important process that Symbios Ecotecture and Camp & Camp teamed up to provide the best options of native species to thrive. The selected plants also create a habitat for pollinators and birds, increasing biodiversity.
Left photo at restaurant opening by photographer Cesar Rubio. Right photo six month after opening by Symbios Ecotecture.
The architecture, with cues from agricultural structures, is simple in form, but form follows function in creating various dining opportunities and protecting patrons and employees from Roseville’s climate. The design team chose to have a gabled roof to showcase the Living Roof to patrons and the community, creating a green beacon for Amy’s Drive Thru. A living roof is very much a team effort, affecting not just design but our consulting engineers. By having conversations early and often the team was able to deliver a sustainable end result.
Partial living roof section by Aria Group
Aria Group will continue to innovate and lead by example in keeping social, economic, and environmental concerns top of mind. We are excited to collaborate on designs that continue to enrich our communities and the environment through our designs leading to a more harmonious future with our planet.
We are kicking off our 2023 series of Meet the Team with introducing you to Jade Heiler! Jade is an experienced architectural designer and has been with us since late 2021. She has been a great asset to the team working on projects with a world-renowned chef that is expanding in the US market, as well as working on multiple locations of The Capital Grille. Before working on hospitality projects here at Aria, Jade gained experience in a diverse range of projects covering municipal, educational, retail, and entertainment sectors. Jade takes pride in her work and enjoys the challenge of working through construction details to best support the design intent. Fun Fact: Jade studied Fashion Design and Retail in undergrad and worked as a merchandising manager before making the switch to Architecture and pursuing her master’s degree! Learn more about Jade Below!
Jade graduated with her Masters in Architecture from Kendall College of Art and Design.
How many places have you lived in your life and where did you grow up? I grew up in Matteson, IL, on the south side of Chicago. I went to Central Michigan University and moved to Grand Rapids, MI after that. I lived in Michigan for a total of 11 years. I just moved back to Chicago in 2021!
What neighborhood do you live in and what is your favorite neighborhood place to visit? I live in Uptown. During the summer, my favorite place is Foster Beach. It’s a tourist-free beach and only a couple blocks from my condo. During the winter, my living room is my favorite place to visit!
How many siblings do you have and are they anything like you? My sister Jasmine is a year older than me and she’s very cool, calm and collected. My brother Clyde III (or Tre as we call him) is 2 years younger than me and he’s also calm and quiet, and together we nerd out on video games and Star Wars. I’m the middle child and definitely the liveliest of the three. I keep everyone entertained.
Do you have any pets? I have a black cat named Reggie. His full name is Regulus Arcturus Black, for my Harry Potter fans out there. I also have an Australian Shepherd named Lando Calrissian, for my Star Wars fans out there.
Best travel story? I spent a month in Volterra, Italy during grad school for study abroad. We lived with another group from a Polish architecture school and made some great new friends. My favorite part was the karaoke party we had one night at our host restaurant. I did a duet with one of the students from Poland, to Déjà vu by Beyonce and Jay-Z. The restaurant owner called me Jay-Z for the rest of the trip.
Using her fashion design and modeling experience, Jade walks the runway to show off our team’s 2022 STITCH competition entry.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why? I always wanted to be a fashion designer and I did get a degree in fashion design. But the more I studied the retail and business side of things, the more I fell in love with it. When I transitioned into architecture, my thesis project was a design for a clothing store that functions like a real world version of Instagram influencing. My favorite part of retail and restaurant design is creating an experience through all of the little details.
Jade’s high school band walking in the Thanksgiving Day parade (left) and showing off her newest hobby, building Star Wars Lego sets.
What is the dorkiest thing about you and why? I collect Star Wars Lego sets. I don’t know how it started but I now have 27 of them. Putting them together is probably my favorite pastime and how I relieve stress. The only ones I don’t have yet are the ones that cost over $500, but I’m planning to complete my collection this year.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I played the clarinet in the Marian Catholic High School marching band. My sophomore year we were in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and my senior year we were in the Rose Bowl parade.
Words you live by and why. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” My dad drilled into me that I can do anything I put my mind to, that it’s better to try and fail than not try at all. That quote is my mantra. I’m not afraid to make big changes in my life and now I’m right where I want to be.
Check out other editions of Meet the Team on our Blog!Meet the Team: Ndeye Fatou Daikhate Njie
Welcome to another addition of the Meet the Team! Fatou has been with us since June 2019 and has quickly made her mark on our team by being a REVIT expert and is one of our BIM Coordinators. As an Architectural Designer, Fatou has a lot of involvement with the Dave & Buster’s brand, working on multiple locations from Cary, NC to the newest projects in Texas & Pennsylvania. She also has been involved with Supercharged, the Hawthorne Casino project, and has even worked a bit with Cooper’s Hawk on one of their new locations. Prior to her time at Aria, she worked at a handful of other local architecture firms and attended the Illinois Institute of Technology for her degree in Architecture. Read on below to learn more about Fatou!
Where did you grow up? Senegal, known as the “Gateway to Africa” and located at the western-most point of the continent is served by multiple air and maritime travel routes. The country lies at an ecological boundary where semiarid grassland, oceanfront, and tropical rainforest converge. Fun Fact: There is an exhibition at the Field Museum in Chicago about Senegal.
Fatou and her family visiting Guanajuato, Mexico.
Do you have any children? How many and what are their names and ages? Yes, Ramatoulie (12) Abdoul Ahad (3)
What is your ideal “I think I’ll call in sick today” day? Rainy Day (I hope this will not catch up with me one day, lol).
What is something you get overly competitive about and why? Anything I sign up for, I give it my all. An example of this is the first time I came to the US, I had decided to go to school here despite studying in French language all my life. Some people had said not to bother with the studies because it was their opinion that a lot of immigrants that started school here did not finish. This made it a competition for me.
Also, another example that is more recent, was during Aria’s summer wellness challenge (which I am on top of the leaderboard). The challenge consists of daily tasks that we have to complete in order to build some healthy habits. I’ll let you in on a secret (don’t tell my competitors), I go to the gym at 6:00 am for an hour just to get half of my 10,000 steps in daily.
Fatou worked on an award winning community center designed and built in Chile while she attended IIT.
Best travel story? I have a few, but I’ll go with my Chile trip. Summer 2016 while at IIT we traveled to Chile for our Design Build Studio. Even though it was hectic, it was a great experience. We designed a Pavilion in the Spring semester and built it that summer in Chile. The project won the AIA Chicago Small Project Honor Awards in 2018, and received an Honorable Mention for the Roberta Feldman Architecture for Social Justice Awards. You can read more on the project here & here.
What would be the one thing you would bring on a deserted island and why? A book, I love to read and won’t mind being alone.
Speaking of books, What’s the last book you read? The Harry Potter Collection (I bought them for my daughter but finished them before her).
Books aside, what’s the last TV show you binged/watched? Current favorite Movie? Criminal Minds & The Negotiator with Samuel L. Jackson
A rendering of a Dave & Buster’s in Cary North Carolina – a project that Fatou enjoyed working on.
Most memorable project? Dave & Buster’s in Cary North Carolina. This is because it was a new prototype design which also was challenged with a complex building structure making for a unique design opportunity.
Would you rather be poor with great style/taste or rich with horrible style/taste? Rich with horrible style/taste. I don’t really care what people think about my style as long as I’m comfortable.Meet the Team: Nathan Kiecker
Welcome to another edition of Meet the Team! This month, we would like you to meet Nathan Kiecker. Nathan is an Architectural Designer and has been a part of the Aria Group team since 2019. Recently, Nathan’s focus has been on several Shake Shack projects around the U.S. and his technical talents have been instrumental to several other sports entertainment venues like Topgolf and the Henrico Sports Complex. Rounding out his hospitality experience, Nathan is also on the team that designed three new food & beverage spaces within Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Continue reading to learn more about Nathan!
What project are you most proud of since being at Aria Group? That would be my first project ever: Shake Shack San Francisco Centre. It was a small interior buildout in the Westfield Mall but it taught me the detailed intricacies that smaller projects require when designing in an existing space. I would liken it to mastering a game of Tetris. Being a part of the process was definitely very rewarding specifically in detailing and coordinating an angular design.
Where did you grow up? I grew up, and still live, in Berwyn, Illinois. Berwyn is 10 minutes south of Oak Park where Aria is located so I have been familiar with the area and surroundings all my life. It is really nice being close by our office.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why? Since childhood, I have always wanted to be an architect. It may sound cliché, but being introduced and experiencing Frank Lloyd Wright’s residential work along with his home and studio—just minutes from my own home—was very influential. I took that direction and passion and have built my career toward that goal.
How many siblings do you have and are they anything like you? I have two older sisters Nicole (the oldest) and Nora (Middle) which makes me the baby. A fun fact is our names start with the letter N, and I would say all three of us have design-orientated minds as do our parents, who are both graphic designers. We all followed in their footsteps.
Nathan and his two older sisters all followed in their parents footsteps with design oriented careers.
What is something you get overly competitive about and why? Anything sports-related, definitely golf. If I wanted to be completely honest though, I’m competitive when it comes to anything that involves two individuals and an end goal of winning. Being competitive is a personal driver for me but when I’m working with my team – I want my team to be successful first and foremost.
Nathan is always ready for a competitive game of golf!
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? Pasta! I have eaten it so much that now I can make my own sauce from scratch. It’s just one of those easy quick meals that can be made anytime.
What’s the last TV show you binge-watched? Ozark. Season 4, Part 1.
What’s your current favorite TV show? Peacemaker! If you have not seen, or heard of this, do yourself a huge favor and have a blast. Thank me later.
What is in the trunk of your car right now? My golf clubs. I’m always prepared for a round with the boys, weather permitting of course. But then again, that is what Topgolf is for!
What is something most people don’t know about you? I collect sneakers. #Sneakerhead. I have really stepped up my game in the last 5 years. I usually wear beaters during the winter, but when the weather warms up be on the lookout for the heat!
Do you have a favorite travel story? So this is not one of my best stories, but it’s definitely one I’ll always remember. When I was in college I decided to wait in line for the new iPhone (at the time it was the iPhone 6). In-store purchasing started at 6am on a Saturday morning at this particular mall which was roughly 15 miles away from college. I had the bright idea of biking there to be one of the first to purchase. So I left and headed out around 8pm the evening before. Since this part of Michigan did not have many sidewalks or street lights, I had to bike up and down hilly roads overnight holding a flashlight in one hand and cars racing past me. After 2 hours of biking I arrived. Following several cups of coffee at a nearby Denny’s, I headed over to the mall to jump in line. It was incredible how many people rushed in all at once—many of them serial early adopters who always flood Apple stores for the next upgrade. The experience was chaos! Pushing, shoving— pure CHAOS! Even an ambulance arrived to help with injuries. When I finally made it to the front of the line, I learned that I needed my parent to verify the account information. The crazy adventure was all for nothing. Ever since, I happily just order online!
Check out other editions of Meet the Team on our Blog!
Meet the Team: Will Olds
Welcome to another addition of Meet the Team! Will Olds joined our team in August 2019, fresh off completing his master’s degree at Kansas State University. In Will’s time at Aria, he has worked on a wide variety of projects including True Food Kitchen, Cooper’s Hawk and most recently Shake Shack. Will has aided our team with his strong Revit skills including developing a new BIM prototype for one of our clients. He isn’t just a technician, though. He has presented design solutions for True Food Kitchen as well as our exploratory suburban mall case study project. He always has great ideas and is an overall great team player with his very approachable and fun personality. Read more about Will below!
Will experiencing European culture at a Copenhagen Football Game
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Astronaut/Astronomer…until I took a physics course!
What would you have been if you weren’t an architect? Graphic Designer or Travel Agent. I identify with a small subset of people who actively enjoy zooming around Google Maps and Google Earth. I think it would be a job that doesn’t feel like a job based on how much I enjoy researching different cultures, cities, restaurants, points of interest, etc. I also think it plays into the exact same skillsets we use in architecture: solving large, complex problems with lots of ‘moving parts’ and coordination between 30 different possible solutions. Plus, I just love to travel—I’ve been to 41 states and 10 countries in my 25 short years.
A younger Will (left) with his two brothers at the Seattle Space Needle.
How many siblings do you have? I have 2 younger brothers, and we’re each about 3 years apart. Fun fact: we all have different hair colors, eye colors, and personalities. I have brown hair and eyes and would describe myself as a thinker, observer, solver. The middle brother has blonde hair and blue eyes and is a super social, people-person. And the youngest has bright red hair and hazel eyes and is a know-it-all and musician.
What is your favorite book? Happy City by Charles Montgomery. It’s a great look into the connection between urban design and the science of happiness. I was reading parts of it for my urban planning minor in grad school and loved it so much I ended up reading the rest. The author not only goes in depth on what our built environment can do for happiness (or fails to do), but he provides a lot of urban design strategies that can improve our cities from a social and emotional aspect (beyond pure functionality).
What is your favorite type of cuisine? My mom’s side of the family is Italian, so I’d have to say Italian. It reminds me of home, and my body may or may not run on pasta, tomato sauce, garlic bread, and parmesan cheese.
What is something you get overly competitive about? Board games with friends that shouldn’t be that serious. I may have an ongoing scoreboard of various games I play with my friends and siblings knowing that I have always been a jack-of-all-trades and even if I was beat at one thing, I’d win the long game and beat them at stuff they weren’t good at.
Will testing his Survivor skills at Mt Rainier.
If you had to be on a reality TV show, which one would you choose? Survivor. I love the competitive and survival aspects of the show. I’d like to think I could fly under the radar during the team/tribe part of the game, but I would definitely have to work on my poker face and social game before going.
Words you live by: “Less is More” –Ludwig Mies van der Rohe