We first installed this Upper West Side penthouse garden in 2000 and have cared for it since then. When the building needed to undergo façade refinishing work, the client took the opportunity to reboot the space. We worked in close collaboration with the client and his ultra contemporary architect to overhaul and execute a new garden design that would provide areas for family dining, relaxing, entertaining guests, year-round visual interest, and even a spot for the family pet.
In addition to the unique challenges associated with NYC roof terrace building codes and landmark restrictions, this garden design was highly complex given the multiple systems (irrigation, lighting design, water feature) that required careful coordination for integration into a seamless installation. As with many terraces in NYC buildings, designing for modularity (and thus eventual relocation) was essential for the implementation of the garden; further, the building did not allow for any element to be attached to structure, while simultaneously requiring features like the arbor/fountain to withstand the high winds of a hurricane.
The main challenge during production was the high level of attention to detail required during shop drawing development for successful on-site installation. Components of the garden came from multiple vendors throughout the country, who had never seen the space and only understood it through pictures and drawings. The water wall was fabricated and tested by a west coast vendor specializing in water features, and the integrated RGB panel systems were created in Utah by a cutting edge acrylic/resin manufacturer. We worked with each fabricator and vendors to stage numerous mock-ups, ensuring that each element performed as expected in exposed terrace conditions and that they met with our client’s high standards.
The garden is comprised of all custom elements ranging from the RGB LED light panels and planter boxes to the teak clad aluminum planters. We worked extensively with the manufacturer of all of the light components to create the unique RGB LED lighting elements using these resin materials in a new way to create the waterwall façade, lightbox planters, and freestanding light panels all in exterior applications. We developed distinct design solutions for each element that eliminated the need for exposed hardware, while allowing the resin material to withstand exposure to the New York climate and freeze-thaw cycles.
The custom planters provide a border for the terrace and a seamless transition to the views of Central Park. The planting is simple, but deliberate with room in each planter for seasonal displays (showcasing purple flowers, the client’s favorite). Our client took an incredible interest in the process accompanying our designers to a nursery to find the perfect specimens, choosing the specimen lilac trees in the aluminum planters and Thunderhead pines in the LED planters.
Through extreme attention to detail, careful coordination, and an innovative approach we created this stunning new terrace garden for the enjoyment of our long-term client.