There Must Be a Cheaper Way: Simplifying the Roof Deck
I am working with Mark Kreyenhoff of John Reimnitz Architect PC on a shared roof deck for our cooperative in a small industrial loft building in SoHo. I became especially motivated for this project last June when I was in the fantastic gardens of Wörlitz, the German version of a British landscape garden in the picturesque taste (a topic for a posting to come). I promised myself that I would work to create an outdoor space so that our building did not miss out on enjoying another spring.
We selected Mark to work with because he is inventive, creative (he really thinks outside the box) and environmentally friendly, too. Being good clients, we asked for the ideal design unfettered by a budget—after all, how expensive can a roof top deck be?
He has made a wonderful design with the largest allowable square footage, an overlook and panels adjusted to shield the summer sun. The best part to my eye is the tree like frames that hold industrial plastic panels for shade—ideal because they will not catch the wind and blow off and still offer permanent sun protection. They could also be made in that great outdoor color: red. The deck would be supported by metal beams suspended from masonry side walls to protect the membrane, and there would be provision for an outdoor shower, solar lighting and boxes for planting. Sadly, his estimate to construct this plan is $250,000 and even dividing the burden by the five members of our cooperative, is too expensive for many of them to take on.
Now, after a period of reflection, I have asked Mark to consider a simpler plan for an outdoor space. I suggested the model of a 19th century crow’s nest/widows walk—or even a basket suspended from a hot air balloon—and creating a space the size of a room with two lounge chairs and/or a table, just big enough for an outdoor shareholder’s meeting.
We would like to use inexpensive, environmentally sensitive materials in an artful way. We would also like the design to be as much as possible about sculpture rather than some historic garden metaphor with say a classical pergola and parterre garden. Afterall, we are on top of a Victorian loft building on the edge of SoHo, not an English park. Our path seems like that of many things being designed today—we all dream for the ideal and then end up seeking a simpler solution and working towards marrying the two.
More will be revealed, as I am apt to say.
Images: computer renderings by Mark Kreyenhoff, John Reimnitz Architects.