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
This 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.
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.
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.
In 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.