Archive for Greenroofs

Rooftop Landscape Design – Featured Project

THE ROOF OF WALL STREET

10 Hanover Square gets a complete rooftop landscape design renovation

Rooftop Landscape - Featured Project 01

The owners of this high-end residential rental building in the Financial District became interested in designing a communal rooftop space and after a recommendation from their interior design firm BG International, contacted Kokobo and the story begins! Upon the first site visit it became clear to the Kokobo design team the improvements this rooftop space required in order to make a warm and friendly area to host the residents and their guests.

The Design Elements

Large, centrally-located electrical rooms and air conditioning units would need to be shielded from view due to their extremely imposing nature in a space walled in with prominent parapet walls. A unique and colorful steel scaffold-like structure circumnavigates the roof which supports the mobile window washing mechanism. kokobo felt the steel structure was out of the way enough and interesting in style that it should be incorporated and even highlighted in the new design. Finally, the entrance to the rooftop would need to be brightened and an imposing air conditioning vent structure overhead hidden from view. With these specific and design parameters kokobo set to work!

Rooftop Landscape - Featured Project 02

Design Process

We chose to conceal and beautify the electrical rooms and air conditioning units with 12′ high IPE ‘Slot Walls’ which are essentially wall structures that enclose continuous slots of living wall panels in a decorative, geometric pattern and utilize minimal footprint space. This created a warm and attractive border enclosing the outdoor rooms and serve to stop the eye from taking in the rooftop utilities. The prominent parapet walls and red steel structure act as divisions of outdoor rooms and spaces with varying uses. The first space you come upon from the entrance is a living room with multiple sofas and comfy lounge chairs surrounding a custom coffee table with built in lighting for nighttime ambiance. Next to the living room is the sunning room filled with chaise lounges for individuals wishing to soak in the rays on those wonderfully sunny NYC days. In the corner of the communal roof top is the second living room with similar outfitting to the first, but on a much larger scale. The fourth space as you turn the corner of the rooftop is the dining area, set with multiple table and chair configurations for rooftop dining of any size or occasion. Finally we come to the last outdoor room next to the dining which is the outdoor kitchen. The large island includes 2 grills, 2 refrigerators, an ice maker, and ample storage space for multiple families or groups to serve and enjoy.

Rooftop Landscape - Featured Project 03
The outdoor rooms are further denoted by overhead trellis and pergola structures in IPE wood which warms the look of the parapet wall and provides an airy ceiling to allow sunlight to penetrate the rooms. A custom IPE and river rock soffit was designed to hide the prominent flashing along the base of the parapet wall and also conceals the electrical and irrigation supply running around the perimeter of the rooftop. The imposing air conditioning vent at the entrance is hidden by an IPE ceiling which stops the eye from seeing the vent but also provides enough air flow in and around the openings.
Rooftop Landscape - Featured Project 04
The darkness of the entrance has been brightened by adding light box planters with rich green ferns along the entrance walls that illuminate your view as soon as you step foot outside. A continuous band of light at the base of the surrounding IPE walls light the ground plane for easy navigation. Freestanding planters are sprinkled throughout the roof space to provide further softening of surrounding architecture and variety of foliage to be enjoyed. Stepping onto the communal rooftop has changed from loud and imposing utility structures, parapet walls, and steel structures to what is now warm and cozy nooks for tenants to enjoy a variety of sitting areas and amenities for any occasion, whether it’s sunning on a hot summer day or having drinks with friends after work, the space and features are amply provided.

Local 11 Forces a Change and a New Design is Created

West Village Rooftop Restoration

After 10 years of enjoying his rooftop overlooking the Hudson River a longtime client of ours found it necessary to sacrifice his terrace for 6 months due to the building’s need for Local 11 work. Local 11 is a law that was passed in 1998 requiring buildings above 6 stories to have regular inspections and repair work to their facades for the safety of pedestrians and owners below.

West Village Rooftop Restoration

Scaffolding, cables, and equipment require a 6 month period of non-use.

Our client’s outdoor space was the actual rooftop for the entire north side of the building and this meant tearing apart many of the built-in planters, removing plants, and key elements to make room for the scaffolding and equipment. What was initially a major inconvenience turned out to be a welcome opportunity for our client to bring the terrace’s design into a more modern, simplified, and clean aesthetic.

New Planters and Plants allow for more Furniture:

West Village Rooftop RestorationAll of the built-in Cedar planters were removed and brand new, colorful architectural fiberglass freestanding planters took their place.

Fresh plantings were added of different varieties highlighting the colorful containers as they grow vertically and spill over. Reducing the planted areas on the terrace allowed the incorporation of more furniture and more capability for entertaining, which the client had been longing for.

Simple and low-slung teak sofas, chair and coffee tables create an intimate sitting area while the existing chaise lounges have more room to breathe and a permanent location on the rooftop.

West Village Rooftop Restoration

An Entire Outdoor Living Space is Anchored by the Pergola:

The clear Cedar pergola from the original design was restored to its original honey color and all hardware was sanded and brought back to original finishes. Keeping the pergola was imperative to the client as it allowed the dining area to be kept in the same spot which offers unobstructed views of the Hudson River to the west and the Empire State Building to the north.

West Village Rooftop Restoration

West Village Rooftop RestorationNext to the dining area, custom cabinetry with a serving counter and storage below provides a perfect spot for staging food and cocktails while also providing protection from the elements for the client’s stereo controls and other electronics.

Lighting and Irrigation:

Existing lighting and irrigation systems were removed and replaced with brand new, state-of-the-art landscape lighting and drip irrigation systems. Whipping winds, shady spots, and blazing sun are all elements that are experienced on this rooftop and the new drip system allows for each plant to be watered at different rates and frequencies based on their unique needs throughout the space. A fully customized low-voltage lighting system provides a dramatic effect on the plants and hardscapes as the sun sets and the outdoor space is used into the night.

We look forward to a wonderful spring and thank you for your continued business and support!

– kokobo greenscapes…. Design, Build, Sustain

THE ROOF OF WALL STREET

10 Hanover Square gets a complete rooftop renovation.

rooftop space nycThe owners of this high-end residential rental building in the Financial District became interested in designing a communal rooftop space and after a recommendation from their interior design firm BG International, contacted kokobo and the story begins! Upon the first site visit it became clear to the kokobo design team the improvements this rooftop space required in order to make a warm and friendly area to host the residents and their guests.

The Design Elements

Large, centrally-located electrical rooms and air conditioning units would need to be shielded from view due to their extremely imposing nature in a space walled in with prominent parapet walls. A unique and colorful steel scaffold-like structure circumnavigates the roof which supports the mobile window washing mechanism. kokobo felt the steel structure was out of the way enough and interesting in style that it should be incorporated and even highlighted in the new design. Finally, the entrance to the rooftop would need to be brightened and an imposing air conditioning vent structure overhead hidden from view. With these specific and design parameters kokobo set to work!

rooftop space nyc

Design Process

We chose to conceal and beautify the electrical rooms and air conditioning units with 12′ high IPE ‘Slot Walls’ which are essentially wall structures that enclose continuous slots of living wall panels in a decorative, geometric pattern and utilize minimal footprint space. This created a warm and attractive border enclosing the outdoor rooms and serve to stop the eye from taking in the rooftop utilities. The prominent parapet walls and red steel structure act as divisions of outdoor rooms and spaces with varying uses. The first space you come upon from the entrance is a living room with multiple sofas and comfy lounge chairs surrounding a custom coffee table with built in lighting for nighttime ambiance. Next to the living room is the sunning room filled with chaise lounges for individuals wishing to soak in the rays on those wonderfully sunny NYC days. In the corner of the communal roof top is the second living room with similar outfitting to the first, but on a much larger scale. The fourth space as you turn the corner of the rooftop is the dining area, set with multiple table and chair configurations for rooftop dining of any size or occasion. Finally we come to the last outdoor room next to the dining which is the outdoor kitchen. The large island includes 2 grills, 2 refrigerators, an ice maker, and ample storage space for multiple families or groups to serve and enjoy.

rooftop designers nyc

The outdoor rooms are further denoted by overhead trellis and pergola structures in IPE wood which warms the look of the parapet wall and provides an airy ceiling to allow sunlight to penetrate the rooms. A custom IPE and river rock soffit was designed to hide the prominent flashing along the base of the parapet wall and also conceals the electrical and irrigation supply running around the perimeter of the rooftop. The imposing air conditioning vent at the entrance is hidden by an IPE ceiling which stops the eye from seeing the vent but also provides enough air flow in and around the openings.

The darkness of the entrance has been brightened by adding light box planters with rich green ferns along the entrance walls that illuminate your view as soon as you step foot outside. A continuous band of light at the base of the surrounding IPE walls light the ground plane for easy navigation. Freestanding planters are sprinkled throughout the roof space to provide further softening of surrounding architecture and variety of foliage to be enjoyed. Stepping onto the communal rooftop has changed from loud and imposing utility structures, parapet walls, and steel structures to what is now warm and cozy nooks for tenants to enjoy a variety of sitting areas and amenities for any occasion, whether it’s sunning on a hot summer day or having drinks with friends after work, the space and features are amply provided.

rooftop designers nyc

Happy New Year and wishing you the absolute best for a wonderful 2014, from all of us at kokobo greenscapes!

 

Roosevelt Island Rooftop Terrace

We wanted to take the opportunity to share a unique project that we are especially proud of. It really shows the breadth of design elements and options that are available even in a confined space with strict parameters. This rooftop terrace shines with some of our strongest work yet. We hope you enjoy!

Oasis in the Sky

Roosevelt Island Rooftop TerraceThis 10th floor condominium sits in middle of the East River and has tremendous views of both Manhattan and Queens, but is also quite exposed to neighbors and natural elements. The 10th floor is not the top floor of this building and therefore the young couple who owns the unit is exposed to neighbor’s prying eyes from the tenants located in the upper stories as well as the building directly opposite on Roosevelt Island’s main drag. While east and west viewpoints offer incredible cityscapes, the clients required some privacy from the northern neighbors as well as those above them. The clients enjoy hosting family and friends, and purchased the unit with a terrace in one of Roosevelt Island’s new constructions with the purpose of creating a beautiful, usable, and intimate outdoor space that would enhance their interiors and add great value to their home.

Roosevelt Island Rooftop Terrace

To establish the intimate space they required the designer looked to create privacy through planting. This was achieved by incorporating custom built-in planters along the perimeter of the space, placing larger plants in key locations and maintaining those east and west views of the cities beyond. Allowing a larger tree such as the Himalayan Birch ample room to grow and thrive 6′ x 6′ planting areas were incorporated in 3 points of the terrace; creating balance and variation with the landscape. Incorporating significant planting areas and therefore saturated soil the building required investigation of the weight loads that would go into these areas. Spreading the planted areas around the perimeter of the space really evened out those heavier loads however and there were no points of extreme weight that would have caused an issue. One area was left free of the custom planter however in order to allow for sunbathing and reaching the parapet wall to offer maximum views of the surrounding vistas. Another element of privacy was incorporated through the use of the pergola over the dining area. Creating a ceiling over the diners that would conceal them from the onlookers in the units above the terrace. Incorporating a built structure of this height caused concern for the building and an engineer and special permit was required in order to attach the structure to the building itself. This requirement proved an enormous logistical challenge, but ultimately was well worth the efforts and cost. The aluminum posts that are visible above the IPE deck have custom feet that sit on the roof membrane and are attached to the concrete roof slab with stainless steel wedge bolts in order to secure the structure against high winds. The addition of the metal material to the roof top provides variations and enriches the overall look of the space.

Roosevelt Island Rooftop Terrace

To make the terrace a usable extension of the interiors, rooms were created with specific programs and features. As you enter the terrace from the interior living room you step out onto the original concrete pavers issued to all exteriors of new constructions in the area. To your left is a small sitting area where a morning coffee and reading of the paper might be enjoyed. Moving forward into the space you step up onto an IPE deck which houses the kitchen and dining areas for the outdoors. The 8-person dining table sits below the custom aluminum and cedar pergola built into the deck and rooftop, and to your left is an ‘L’ shaped outdoor kitchen with an electric grill (gas and propane were restricted by building and city codes), bar sink and ice chest, refrigerator, and stainless steel cabinetry. The kitchen is veneered in a natural, stacked-stone and the counter is a custom poured and tinted concrete. The counter extends over the northern side of the kitchen to create a bar with ample space for seating and entertaining while grilling is taking place. As you continue north through the space you step down again onto the original concrete pavers – the deck was maintained in the central area of the terrace in order to keep it from the reaching the parapet and exceeding the minimum 42″ height requirement. To your right is an open, sun-filled space for sunbathing and experiencing the surrounding views. To the left is the living area of the terrace with cushy, sectional seating and a custom built-in bench with shading pergola overhead. In time the posts and beams of the bench pergola will be covered in Trumpet Vines offering shade and additional privacy during the warmer seasons.

Roosevelt Island Rooftop TerraceIn addition to the requirements associated with the pergola, deck, and kitchen appliances the designer also had to consider and plan for window washing operations that take place biannually on the terrace. Access to nearly every point along the perimeter had to be maintained in order for 1 man and a window washing basket with rope and pulley system to have room to work and move along. Therefore every landscape/built feature was brought inward 15″ from the railing. Unfortunately this decreased the usable footprint of the space for the homeowners, but ultimately was minimal in what it took away from the overall design goals. Privacy from the northern neighbors and the eyes overhead were still achieved. Various rooms were implemented allowing for an extension of the indoors and maximum use of the space. Views of Manhattan and Queens were maintained to the east and west providing a unique and awesome experience of the city surrounding this Roosevelt Island Oasis.

Urban Rooftop Garden

An urban terrace becomes an outdoor living and entertainment area.

Urban Rooftop Garden

Urban Rooftop GardenMirroring the urban geometry that surrounds the terrace, the design implements colors and shapes that appear repeatedly in the urban environment. To further define these areas the central living area and small seating area were raised on synthetic wood decking to break the space up into rooms. It included a large sectional sofa and a remotely operated fire pit. A weather proofed entertainment area houses a flat screen TV on a remote lift system. The dining area shares the small kitchen with a built-in grill and bar, which is adjacent to the raised seating area at the west end of the terrace.

The plantings provide separation from the city and define the entertainment areas. Chosen for their color, shape and textures the plantings accent, soften, and harmonize with the modern furnishings.

Urban Rooftop Garden

Tall arborvitaes on the east side of the terrace were chosen for their height and immediate screening from the neighboring buildings. The neutral tones of pavers, synthetic wood decking and planters were well served by employing plants of decidedly red and green hues to provide a counterpoint in this most contemporary of open spaces. The selection and location of the plants enabled the space to “serve two masters” by providing lines of sight to the surrounding cityscape, and afford an intimacy of scale that balances the macrocosm against the microcosm.

Green Roof Tax Incentive

In June of 2008, New York Legislature passed a new bill that is offering tax abatements to building owners who install green rooftops. In doing so, the state hopes to encourage the adoption of green roofs by taking “green” one step further. Not only will buildings receive tax credits based on these newly passed incentives, they will also benefit from the other economic savings that green roofs provide.

Under this law, building owners in New York City who install green roofs on at least 50% of available rooftop space can apply for a one year property tax credit of up to $100,000. The credit would be equal to $4.50 per square foot of roof area that is planted with vegetation, or approximately 25% of the typical costs associated with the materials, labor, installation and design of the green roof.

green roofs

We know we have to protect the environment, and the number one contributor to global warming, in terms of pollution, is not emissions from automobiles, as many people think – it is buildings. Green roofs significantly reduce a building’s carbon footprint. – Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr.

Green rooftops can save New York City residents more than $5 million in energy cooling costs, cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce overflows of raw sewage by easing pressure on the city’s overburdened sewer system, which will help to achieve swimmable and fishable waterways in neighborhoods throughout New York City. – Larry Levine, Natural Resources Defense Council

Green Roofs in Big Cities Bring Relief from Above

Roofs, like coffee, used to be black tar. Now both have gone gourmet: for roofs, the choices are white, green, blue and solar-panel black.

greenroof

Chester Higgins Jr. / The New York Times. A co-op in Manhattan with a roof garden.

All are green in one sense. In different ways, each helps to solve serious environmental problems. One issue is air pollution, which needs no introduction. The second is the urban heat island. Because cities have lots of dark surfaces that absorb heat and relatively little green cover, they tend to be hotter than surrounding areas — the average summer temperature in New York City is more than 7 degrees hotter than in the Westchester suburbs. This leads to heavy air-conditioning use — not good — and makes city dwellers miserable. For a few people every year, the heat is more than a discomfort — it’s fatal.

The other problem is storm water runoff. In New York, as in about a fifth of American cities, there is only one sewer system to conduct both rainwater and wastewater. About every other rainfall in New York, sewers flood and back up, discharging their mix of rainwater and wastewater into the city’s waterways. It doesn’t take much to overload New York’s sewers — it can take only 20 minutes of rainfall to start water from toilets flowing into Brooklyn’s waterways. The water does more than flood streets. It makes us sick — cases of diarrhea spike when sewers overflow. When sewers back up, polluted water runs into our lakes and oceans, closing beaches.

How can a new roof help?

At 1:45 in the afternoon on August 9, 2001, the temperature in Chicago was in the 90s. Eleven stories up, on the roof of City Hall, the surface temperature of the black tar measured 169 degrees. But Mayor Daley, environmental innovator, had done something interesting. The year before, a section of the City Hall roof had been painted white. The surface temperature there was between 126 and 130 degrees. And much of the roof of the building had become a garden — 20,000 plants in 150 varieties, chosen for their abilities to thrive without irrigation and stand up to Chicago’s notorious wind. The surface temperature of the green roof varied between 91 and 119 degrees.

So the difference between a black tar roof and a green roof was at minimum 50 degrees. And the green roof was able to retain 75 percent of a one-inch rainfall. The two tasks go hand in hand — green roofs cool by capturing moisture and evaporating it.

Putting living vegetation on the roof is not a new idea. For thousands of years people have made sod roofs to protect and insulate their houses, keeping them cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The modern movement for green roofs began in the last 50 years in Europe. Germany, where about 10 percent of roofs are green, is the leader; some parts of Germany require green roofs on all new buildings.

Greening a roof is not exactly simple though. Over a black roof — flat is easiest but sloped can work — goes insulation, then a waterproof membrane, then a barrier to keep roots from poking holes in the membrane. On top of that there is a drainage layer, such as gravel or clay, then a mat to prevent erosion. Next is a lightweight soil (Chicago City Hall uses a blend of mulch, compost and spongy stuff) and finally, plants.

An extensive roof — less than 6 inches of soil planted with hardy cover such as sedum — can cost $15 per square foot. An intensive roof — essentially a garden, with deeper soil and plants that require watering and weeding — can double that. But because the vegetation is thicker, it will do a better job of cooling a building and collecting rainwater. Plants reduce sewer discharge in two ways. They retain rainfall, and what does run off is delayed until after the waters have peaked.

A study conducted by Columbia University and City University of New York of three test roofs built by Con Edison in Queens found that the green roof — an extensive roof, planted with sedum — cut the rate of heat gained through the roof in summer by 84 percent, and the rate of heat lost through the roof in winter by 34 percent.

Another study (same researchers, same Con Ed test sites) found that green roofs are a very cost-effective way to reduce storm water runoff. If New York has one billion square feet of possibly greenable roof, planting it all could retain 10 to 15 billion gallons of annual rainfall — which would cut a substantial amount of sewage overflow. “If you add in all the other green infrastructure, such as street trees, permeable pavement and ground collection pits, it might be possible to eliminate the combined sewage overflow without building specialized water detention tanks, which are hugely expensive,” said Stuart Gaffin, a research scientist at Columbia’s Center for Climate Systems Research, who co-authored both studies with colleagues from City College.

Green roofs have other advantages. They scrub the air: one square meter can absorb all the emissions from a car being driven 12,000 miles a year, said Amy Norquist, chief executive of Greensulate, which installs green roofs. And green roofs can provide the plants that animals, birds and bees need where parks are far apart.

White roofs are cheap and don’t require any engineering — just a layer of special paint. New York City is trying to coat a million square feet of roof a year. Building owners can do the work themselves, or they can engage CoolRoofs, a city initiative that promotes white roofs and organizes hundreds of volunteer painters. Since 2010, about 3,000 volunteers have coated 288 buildings.

But less investment buys less return. White roofs don’t catch rainwater, help biodiversity or clean the air. Gaffin’s group found that the white portion of the Con Ed roof averaged 43 degrees cooler than black at noon on summer days. That’s something, but it’s a smaller cooling effect than green roofs offer. Green roofs improve each year as vegetation becomes denser and taller. But after a few months, a white roof tends to look like city snow — covered with soot. As a white roof dirties, it loses a lot of its cooling ability.

Another roof option doesn’t save energy — it creates it. New Jersey has installed 500 megawatts of solar power — enough to run half a million homes. California has installed double that. New York City? So far, just 6.5 megawatts.

How have New Jersey and California done it? Private vendors install and maintain the solar panels, and are paid in future energy savings. Scott Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, argues that New York should use this system to put solar panels on the roof of every public school. Stringer’s report says putting solar roofs on all available public schools would eliminate as much carbon emissions as planting 400,000 trees — eight times the number in Manhattan now.

Public schools have become a testing ground for the new roofs. At the Robert Simon complex in the East Village, which houses three schools (my children attend two of those schools), work is beginning this summer on a farm. A committee at the Earth School was looking for green ideas that would go beyond recycling and create a curriculum. Abbe Futterman, the science teacher, was already growing vegetables and fruit in sawed-off pickle barrels right outside her classroom window, using the garden to teach plant science and nutrition. The kids tend it, and use the produce to cook food from around the world.

The Fifth Street Farm will be a much larger vegetable and fruit garden in planters raised above the roof on steel girders — not a classic green roof. The money has come from various government offices — those of Stringer, State Senator Daniel Squadron and City Council member Rosie Mendez. Douglas Fountain, an architect who is assisting the schools in implementing the construction (and a parent of a Tompkins Square Middle School student) said that it was designed to be easily replicable by other schools.

Is a green roof a good investment for a building owner? Perhaps, but the biggest reason might not be reduced energy costs — lots of factors affect a building’s energy use. More savings come from the fact that temperature swings make a black tar roof expand and contract. The smaller the spread, the longer the roof life. Roanoke, Va., for example, just installed a green roof on its municipal building, at a cost of $123,000, adding anywhere from 20 to 60 years to the life of the current roof membrane. “I personally believe a green roof is the last roof you’ll have to put on,” said Gaffin.

But any changes to a black tar roof are undoubtedly good investments for cities — indeed, interest in green roofs is soaring largely because of the sewage problem and the costs of trying to solve it the old way. New York City decided it was more cost effective to build green infrastructure, including green roofs, than to construct more sewer pipes or storage tanks, and it is spending $1.5 billion over the next 20 years on green projects that will reduce rainfall runoff. The goal is to cut sewer outflows by 40 percent by 2030.

“The good news is that this is a ‘no harm’ intervention,” said Carter Strickland, the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection. “People want it; there’s a lot of other benefits. If at the end of the day it doesn’t do the full job, whatever you have to build on top will be much smaller and less expensive.”

To encourage building owners to install green roofs, New York City has a pilot program that will end next year offering a $4.50-per-square-foot tax abatement for green roofs that cover more than half a rooftop. (There are also tax abatements for solar-panel roofs.)

New York City was not one of the first American cities to promote green roofs. “But the city is doing quite well,” said Gaffin. “The green infrastructure plan is very ambitious.” The problem is that the little-by-little approach won’t produce real environmental benefits until they reach a critical mass, and that could take a long time. “We get biodiversity benefits from small scale greening, and individual building owners will get an energy benefit,” said Gaffin. “ But to make a difference to the city’s climate or hydrology we’d have to get up to 30, 40 or 50 percent coverage. What we have now is a drop in the bucket.”

(original post)