Rooftop reprieves

Outdoor space goes from exclusive to ubiquitous as more landlords open up rooftops

Aug.August 01, 2015 10:19 AM
A rendering of green rooftops in Manhattan

A rendering of green rooftops in Manhattan

The streets of New York City can feel like an oven during the summer. For many, relief is found on the rooftops. Today’s rooftop terraces, particularly those in new development buildings, are growing increasingly bigger and swankier, sporting everything from designer furniture to commissioned artwork to pools to spas — adding a coveted amenity for tenants and further padding developers’ pockets. But New Yorkers have been taking to their roofs for respite since at least the days when Teddy Roosevelt headed the NYPD. (A bit of rooftop trivia: Roosevelt controversially opened Central Park to the public at night, after a number of people fell from tenement rooftops while sleeping during a brutal heat wave.) And it’s not just residential buildings getting outdoor space today. Spurred in part by the demand for unconventional office space in the city’s nascent tech and creative industries, office-building landlords are adding or revamping previously ignored outdoor space on roofs, in courtyards and wherever else they can squeeze in a bench, table and umbrella. Hotels by the dozen have opened rooftop bars and lounges. And now even the biggest commercial projects, like Bjarke Ingels’ proposed Two World Trade Center, are incorporating green space. Perhaps with a cold drink in hand, sitting on your office rooftop, read on for a NYC rooftop (and other outdoor space) rundown.    

The rooftop pool at the McCarren Hotel.

The rooftop pool at the McCarren Hotel.

71
Number of permits projected to be filed in 2015 with the Department of Buildings containing the words “roof deck.” So far this year, 40 such permits were filed, already exceeding the 25 for 2014. Roof deck filings have steadily increased since 2009, the first year for which the DOB has data, when there were just eight.

38,000 sq. ft.
Total area of outdoor space planned for the Bjarke Ingels-designed Two World Trade Center. The 1,340-foot-tall building will be composed of seven 12-story boxes stacked irregularly on top of each other, creating a roughly 6,000 square foot slice of outdoor space on top of each.

13,000
Square footage of outdoor exhibition space and terraces at the new Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District. The 50,000-square-foot museum also has an 8,500-square-foot outdoor entry plaza.

4.5 acres
The size of the so-called “Public Square” at Hudson Yards, which will nominally function as a garden, but actually serve as the roof of the rail yard below it. Probably safe to assume that it will be the city’s biggest rooftop.

3,200 sq. ft.
Size of a terrace at 655 Park Avenue — one of the largest private terraces in the city. The space, featured in the 2011 book “Rooftop Gardens” by real estate heir Denise LeFrak Calicchio, is large enough for the unit’s owners to entertain 100 guests. For comparison, a $22 million, 5,723-square-foot unit overlooking the High Line, billed as the priciest apartment in the area, boasts a terrace of just 899 square feet.

“Sunset,” brightly colored chairs by artist Mary Heilman, is on display in the Whitney’s largest outdoor gallery.

“Sunset,” brightly colored chairs by artist Mary Heilman, is on display in the Whitney’s largest outdoor gallery.

40-by-20-by-4
Dimensions (in feet) of the rooftop pool at the McCarren Hotel in Williamsburg, the city’s only outdoor saltwater pool. For a more exclusive dip, of the classic freshwater-and-chlorine variety, there’s the members-and-hotel-guests-only 15-by-32-foot heated pool on the roof of the Soho House. Members must submit headshots and career history, and pay $2,000 annually. Hotel guests can get in for as little as $500 a night. Celeb watchers can pay $250 for a “Daycation” pass at the Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking District, and watch for the likes of Jay-Z, Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian.

18
Number of films to be shown this month at the New York Rooftop Film Club, on the terrace of the Midtown Yotel, including “Blade Runner,” “Dirty Dancing,” and “Top Gun.” The Death Ave bar in Chelsea, one of only a handful of spots in the city that still hosts rooftop screenings, will show five movies, including “Midnight Cowboy,” “Vertigo” and “Roman Holiday.”

$100,000
The maximum tax break a building in New York City can receive through the state’s Green Roof tax abatement program. In order to qualify, at least 50% of the building’s roof must be covered in a “vegetation layer,” at
least 80% of which must be covered with live plants.

btn-450,000
Pounds of organically grown vegetables harvested annually on 2.5 combined acres at two rooftop farms — one at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the other in Long Island City — operated by Brooklyn Grange, a rooftop farming business. The group also operates 30 bee hives, each on a different roof throughout the city.


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