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The Architect Is In: Roof Gardens with Pulltab Design


The Architect Is In: Roof Gardens with Pulltab Design

May 26, 2012

Urban living is all about the creative maximization of available space; especially outdoor space. This week, Melissa Baker and Jon Handley of Pulltab Design (members of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory) discuss their design for a New York rooftop garden and are on hand for the next 72 hours to answer any and all reader questions (post your queries in the comments section below).

For this expansive outdoor rooftop space in the East Village, Baker and Handley (both are graduates of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design) were tasked with maximizing the panoramic views while maintaining a sense of privacy, which they achieved via strategically placed walls, canvas screens, and plantings.

The elegant simplicity of their design for this rooftop garden belies the complexities required in incorporating and integrating the contributions of various design team members; including the client, the code consultant, the structural engineer, and the landscape architect. Here’s your chance to ask the experts about how it all comes together; post your questions in the comments section below.

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, be awarded the realization of “Chunky” who was made out of an oak block sourced from a Pennsylvania mill and can be used as a bench.

Above: Like all 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 gasline 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 agreed upon. 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: While 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.

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