A best-in-class commercial building in the heart of New York’s Flatiron District, has attracted a new tenant. The brand new entrance and renovated lobby drew a well-known firm who fit out their new space to the nines, show-casing a clean and ultra-modern feel. The interior plants and containers play a key role in the design, delivering a unique, creative and purposeful feel to the workspace. Bright red containers with simple, sculptural plants create a bold, eye-catching silhouette. Prism containers, clustered together and planted with a mixed foliage palette create a geometric and organic display. The ‘less is more’ approach, with fewer planters deliberately placed, meld seamlessly into the space, visual elements as crucial as lighting, furniture and artwork.
As Brooklyn continues to reach upward, its newest denizens demand an aesthetic which marries the past with the present. For the latest buildings, rooftop spaces are not an after-thought but are carefully engineered and planned early in the design phase, often long before there is a semblance of a space to survey.
The primary challenge with common spaces for residential buildings is to provide some level of individual privacy while developing an overall spatial design which will also foster social interaction between users. In order to achieve this balance, smaller conversational spaces which are defined through the rigid face of the wood-clad planters and accented by hearty plantings and provide a diverse mix of seating types from long benches attached to the face of the planters to moveable chairs and tables allowing for maximum flexibility. The smaller conversational spaces take advantage of the views from the outside edges of the roof while the larger common spaces are defined by plant-softened wood fences.
The materials of the space borrow from the buildings context, reclaiming many of the materials which permeated Brooklyn’s industrial heritage. Concrete, steel, aluminum and various fabrics are some of the elements which help to unite the past with the present. Transferring the feel of the sidewalk planting bed to the rooftop is achieved through the raw steel-edged green-roof garden areas which help define the spaces.
Often times, the smallest of spaces prove to be the largest design challenge. Clients desire functional spaces which exude the lush, organic beauty they glimpse at spaces which tend to garner more of the press attention, which usually suggests they are greater in scale. In order for form and function to be joined in spiritual union, we can look to the context of the space in order to garner inspiration.
Introducing curved containers into the garden not only minimizes the angular impact of the space and its surrounding vertical neighbors, but borrows from the ebb and flow of the river passing by to the west. The containers vary in height so as to provide an accented and unimpeded view from the inside to the outside. The lush plantings reflect some of the leafy residents of nearby Riverside Park as well as reinforcing the movement of the Hudson as the grasses sway in the breezes high above the street.
The design of this corporate terrace needs to accommodate a multitude of functions. During the day the space serves as a meeting place, fresh air lunch breaks and respite from the stress of the day. In the evening it transforms into a social space for networking events and watching the sun set over the Hudson River. The landscape design aims to meld the clean aesthetics of modern design with the iconic architecture of the Starrett-Lehigh Building. 2 large teak tables are placed perpendicular to the length of the terrace providing spatial division and functional definition. Conversational seating is placed at the outward corner providing a soft lounge area that captures the optimum view. In contrast, 2 chaise lounges are placed in the far back corner protected by tall planters to provide the ultimate privacy for relaxing. 2 distinct areas of pavers are removed for the application of sedum green roofs. Capturing the storm water runoff these permeable areas assist in reducing waste water while also adding additional aesthetic value to the terrace. Ore planters are placed to envelope and segment the terrace into functional zones. Planted with color and texture, as well as herbs and vegetables, the plantings create seasonal interest and draw the attention outward from the interior. As one of ORE’s many customizable features, LED lighting was installed within the containers for added ambiance. The ability to locate the lighting elements within the structure of the planters allowed for the generation of a functional spatial design which complements the sleek aesthetics of the interior architecture.