Liberty Center's rooftop garden could set the Butler County retail center apart

Design influenced by Stonehenge, Spanish Steps

LAS VEGAS - Most retail outlets have air-handling equipment and tar on the roof. Liberty Center has a “wonderful little gem of discovery.”

That’s how Dwayne Furukawa, senior development executive at Steiner + Associates, describes the nearly two-acre rooftop garden that will be built atop retail spaces on the $300 million Butler County project.

“The idea behind our roof garden here is to have something a little more passive that the customer will just happen upon and it’ll be like a wonderful little gem of discovery,” said Furukawa, in an exclusive interview with WCPO at the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas.

The annual trade show is the biggest retail leasing event of the year. Steiner + Associates met with prospective tenants and lenders at the show, updating its marketing materials and a scale model of the project with lots of new design elements.

Furukawa worked on the rooftop garden design. Elements of it were inspired by The Spanish Steps in Rome. A circular labyrinth garden has a sculpture in the center that was inspired by Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument in England.

“We’re calling it a passive spiritual garden,” he said. “The idea  … is a very simple labyrinth garden with a bunch of ornamental dwarf conifers that kind of make you feel you’re in a totally different world.”

Next to the labyrinth garden is a field of wild grasses and trees up to 20 feet tall.

“You’ll see natural grasses about three or four feet high just swaying in the breeze,” he said. “You can’t really go in the grasses but we’ll have pathways through them to allow you to interact.”

Surrounding the rooftop park will be a community club that can be rented for weddings and parties up to 200 people. Then, there’s Unity Chapel.

“This is going to be a non-denominational spiritual place,” he said. “People can rent it out for weddings, spiritual experiences, even for parties and other gatherings.”

Steiner officials said the rooftop park is intended to be a gathering place for diners, shoppers, office workers, hotel guests and movie goers – all of whom will be drawn to the site after its Fall, 2015 opening.

Apartment and office towers will overlook the park, which is made possible by an innovative chiller system tucked into an on-site parking garage.

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