A Manhattan Rooftop Garden with a Panoramic View by

Issue 66 · Cult of the Kitchen · April 3, 2013

A Manhattan Rooftop Garden with a Panoramic View

Issue 66 · Cult of the Kitchen · April 3, 2013

Urban living is all about making the most of available space, especially outdoor space. Ever wonder what's up there on New York City's rooftops?

To create an elegantly simple rooftop garden in Manhattan's East Village, Melissa Baker and Jon Handley of Pulltab Design (members of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory) maximized the impact of panoramic views while maintaining a sense of privacy, which they achieved with strategically placed walls, canvas screens, and plantings..

Photography by Bilyana Dimitrova.

Above: The East Village rooftop garden offers several separate areas; seating, showering, and reprieve from the sun.

Above: Expansive views of the East Village, on view from the rooftop.

Above: New steel beams were installed across the entire roof to support the new construction. "We worked with a creative structural engineer (Dan Cuoco from Robert Silman Associates) to work out the required loads and level changes. It's important to note that plantings and water features create additional loads that need to be accounted for early on in the design, and we brought the landscape gardener (Roger Miller Gardens) onto the project from the onset."

Above: "We designed this project to weather well," says Handley. Over time, the ipe decking will become gray, the Corten steel water basin will continue to rust, and the oak block will blacken.

Above: "Every project has a hero," says Handley, 'the place where you spend a little extra to get what you want." The oak block water feature, nicknamed "Chunky," was the hero for this project. In the building contract, Baker and Handley specified that a particular furniture builder, Stephen Iino, make "Chunky," created from an oak block from a Pennsylvania mill. The water feature also can be used as a bench.

Above: Like the other materials in the project, the Corten steel screen will continue to weather and rust.

Above: Inspired by Italian architect Carlo Scarpa, a master of architectural detailing, Pulltab lined the framed opening of the view to the power station with a 12-inch section of gas line pipe, designed deliberately to rust onto the stucco wall.

Above: Exceeding the budget is typically the No.1 concern on every building project. Baker and Handley believe that preparing a thorough and detailed set of construction document drawings is the key to minimizing unnecessary changes after the budget has been set. The construction bid set for this project included 20 pages of drawings, leaving little room for interpretation or doubt. “We draw everything,” Handley says. “It’s the only way to know your project and avoid unexpected surprises.”

Above: Although the outdoor shower was designed for privacy, there is a view of the Empire State building from the small rectangular opening.

Above: The canvas partitions were made by Mark Washam from Doyle Sailmakers in Long Island, using military grade surplus canvas.

Wondering what's growing on the rest of New York's rooftops? see NYC Rooftop Garden Roundup.

This is an update of a post published May 26, 2012.

Have an opinion? Care to comment? We'd love to hear what you have to say.