Rooftop Garden Escape | Tricia Martin & Winston Ely, WE Design

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As a husband-and-wife, architect and landscape architect design-build team, WE Design integrated the architectural details into the landscape of this rooftop terrace to create an urban oasis high above the bustling streets of New York City. A custom outdoor kitchen, new green roof, and thoughtful lighting establish this previously underutilized rooftop as a lively space at all times of the day.

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The planting plan maximizes and frames the rooftop’s spectacular views. A variety of textures soften the edge of the terrace, while grasses unify the two spaces between the dining room and lounge area. A specimen Japanese maple frames a view of the Empire State Building. The Dianthus and Sedum green roof adds an attractive edge between habitable spaces and the skylight, and a green wall of climbing Hydrangea masks the harsh white stucco wall behind it. The planting plan also draws inspiration from adjacent rooftop gardens. By incorporating similar textures, the design appears to bleed across the street, giving an impression of a larger, continuous park in the sky. In addition to its visual appeal, this added greenery absorbs stormwater, and, combined with white pavers, helps to reduce heat island effect.

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With the exception of the green roof, all plantings are in custom fabricated, powder coated aluminum planters. Lightweight and non-corrosive, the aluminum material helps to maintain the structural integrity of the roof. The gunmetal powder-coated paint complements the steel of the roof’s structural braces.

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A continuous, custom-designed ipê bench runs along the northern edge of the terrace. The bench varies in depth, to accommodate both lounging and dining. Waterproof storage is integrated into the bench design, for packing away toys and cushions during the winter or rainier months. A hydraulic system eases the effort of lifting the heavy ipê bench seats.Rooftop Garden Escape-WE Design-New York-USA1

The outdoor kitchen, with custom designed stainless steel cabinetry and countertops, provides the tools for sophisticated outdoor cooking and dining, including a sink, gas grill, smoker, and wine chiller. The use of marine-grade stainless steel prevents salt and water damage. Two built-in planters provide an edible herb and vegetable gardening opportunity for the clients and their young son.

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The lush plantings of this luxurious rooftop create a private garden room for dining and entertaining while preserving views out to the Manhattan skyline, providing both an escape from and celebration of its urban setting.

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Rooftop Garden Escape

Location | New York, NY
Design Firm |  WE Design
Image and Text Credits | Ty Cole

About Damian Holmes 3148 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at