East 49th Street
New York, NY

The project was developed as a roof garden and terrace above a penthouse apartment of a 32 story building in Midtown Manhattan. The clients asked for a scheme that would maximize views of the East River and Downtown and also provide shade from the summer sun. They wanted a flexible space that could be used either for entertaining or personal relaxation with visual and acoustic privacy from existing mechanical equipment on the roof. A concept was developed to create an artificial landscape that was responsive to the program and site.

Migratory flight patterns of birds lead to a structural diagram for cantilevered trellis ”wings” that provides a unifying organization for the garden. The wings dilate and compress according to the view and program of the space they enclose creating a variety of scales. Steel and wood composite beams allow the structure to soar 8 feet clear of its supports and minimize the need for columns. They also act as a shading device to be planted with wisteria. Vertical screens made of tongue and groove cedar bend and peal around the existing mechanical equipment and roof stair. They form a double wall filled with rigid insulation that creates a privacy barrier from the noise of the surrounding roof. The curved screens and slat benches are built using boat construction techniques and are stained in two colors.