The Advocate Center, a state-of-the-art training facility in downtown Chicago, includes a walkable 14,700 sq. ft. green roof also visible from the surrounding buildings and light rail track.

On a sunny Friday last Sept-ember, the Chicago Bulls officially opened their new practice facility. The building, named the Advocate Center, is located in downtown Chicago, directly across the street from the United Center, the Bull’s home court on game days. The move is part of a broader trend for professional sports teams to establish arena districts for fans, complete with restaurants and bars for an enhanced entertainment experience. The state-of-the-art training facility includes an 14,700 sq. ft. vegetated roof visible from the surrounding buildings and light rail track.

For the previous 22 years, the Chicago Bulls have practiced about 25 miles north of the city center in Deerfield. Team owner Jerry Reinsdorf says that when a new training facility was first discussed, he thought the team would stay in the North Shore area, but Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel thought otherwise.

“We had a new mayor at that time, and he suggested rather strongly that the Chicago Bulls ought to be in Chicago, so it seemed to make sense,” Reinsdorf said. Emanuel, who formerly served as chief of staff for Obama’s White House, attended the ribbon cutting ceremony.

League officials have described the $25 million Advocate Center as a “basketball palace.” The 16,000 sq. ft. practice facility and front-office headquarters features the latest weight training equipment, a gourmet commercial-grade kitchen, leather theater seats in the film room, and other amenities for athletes, arranged around the heart of the building: two NBA-regulation-sized courts.

“When I’m standing on the basketball court in that big space, it’s really exciting,” said Reinsdorf. “But then you walk around through the weight room, locker room and offices… every area in the new facility has been well thought out. It’s literally across the street from the United Center, which will allow greater interaction between our business side and our basketball side. I couldn’t be more excited.”

The eye-catching design was created by Chicago-based architectural firm 360 Architecture, which also specified the vegetated roof. The west side of the facility has a saw-toothed façade while the north side features glass walls to allow Bulls fans outside the building to view the six NBA championship banners that hang from the rafters.

The second floor of the Advocate Center features an 14,700-sq.-ft. vegetated roof. It’s easily accessible, and includes walkways, benches, and picnic areas with tables and chairs nestled among the greenery.

The roof top was constructed using American Hydrotech’s Garden Roof and Ultimate assemblies.  Starting with the security of Hydrotech’s MM6125 waterproofing to keep the building dry, these assemblies are ideally suited for creating unique spaces on rooftops.  The flexibility of the Garden Roof assembly allows for both extensive (shallow) LiteTop media depths for planting sedums and similar plants as well as intensive (deeper) media profiles for planting ornamental grasses and shrubs.  Pavers and planters as part of Hydrotech’s Ultimate Assembly are integrated seamlessly into the final roof plan to create the amenity package for the building’s patrons.

Richard Hayden, Garden Roof Department Manager for Hydrotech says, “Hydrotech’s Garden Roof and Ultimate Assemblies combine our proven Monolithic Membrane 6125 waterproofing membrane with our long experience in green roof technologies.  Replacing a conventional smooth roof with a vegetated green roof can substantially reduce and delay stormwater runoff and restore badly needed open green spaces to our urban centers.

In addition, studies indicate that vegetated green roofs can reduce the urban heat island effect and cool surrounding areas.”

In total, 11,300 sq. ft. of roof was constructed using Hydrotech’s Garden Roof assembly.  An additional 1,800 sq. ft. of Hydrotech Ultimate Assembly was used that incorporated Hanover Architectural pavers in a design that created walkways, picnic areas and well as access paths to the mechanical equipment on the roof.

Naming rights for the facility were purchased by Advocate hospital system, the largest health care provider in Illinois. It’s part of a long-term partnership between the two organizations. Interestingly, the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers also play or practice in facilities named for local health care providers.

Most of the roof has fairly shallow soil depths, but a few areas are built up enough to allows for ornamental grasses and shrubs.

At the ribbon-cutting both Mayor Emanuel and Reinsdorf saluted McHugh Construction, the general contractor, for bringing the project in on time and budget.

John Paxson, executive VP of basketball operations for the Bulls says, “This is going to allow our players to live in the city and be part of the community.” He also noted that the cutting-edge facility—including the green roof—may help recruiting.

“They all know the organization’s great reputation,” says Paxson, “but now you can sit down and say, ‘Look, here’s what you have access to: the city, the practice facility, everything is here and it is close.’ I think it is going to help,”.

Bulls Head Coach Tom Thibodeau was equally pleased. “We’re thrilled and we couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said. “I know our players are very excited to get down here.”

The garden roof is easily accessible to building occupants, with 1,800 sq. ft. of walkways and meeting areas for relaxing and conversation.

Summer 2015 Back Issue


Remedial Waterproofing
Green Roof Profile: Bulls Practice Facility
Sealing Manholes And Water Tunnels:
Green Roof Directory


SKU: 2015-06 Category:



Remedial Waterproofing
By Melissa Morton
Keeping water out of an existing below-grade structure is often more complex than new construction. Options include curtain grouting, pumps, crack repair, and drainage systems that collect and divert water from inside the structure.

Green Roof Profile: Bulls Practice Facility
Completed last fall, the Advocate Center is a training facility for the Chicago Bulls basketball team featuring state-of-the-art weight training and practice space on the inside and an 11,300 sq. ft. green roof on top.

Sealing Manholes And Water Tunnels:
By Deb Hammacher
Sealing municipal tunnels—and the manholes that access them—is a significant waterproofing challenge.

Green Roof Directory
Published in conjunction with, this is a comprehensive categorized list of the products and services offered to the vegetated roof industry.

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