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Thread: Rooftop Life

  1. #1

    Default Rooftop Life

    August 24, 2003

    On the Roof, Another New York, Above It All


    Slide Show

    Even in these days of computer games, conditioned air and liability lawsuits, the people of New York still go to the roof. They charge through security doors and climb up fire escapes, and nervous landlords or busybody building superintendents are no match.

    They go seeking cool relief, a little conversation, the spectacular belvedere from what amounts to the ceiling of the city.

    "Sometimes you're up on the roof, you have a little music, you close your eyes, you could be at the beach," says Leon Ichaso, a filmmaker. "It's celebratory. There's a sense that they can't catch you up there."

    With summer winding down, this parallel urban landscape is in its final distinctive days. Rich or poor, native or immigrant, on deck chair or cardboard box, New Yorkers are on their roofs for just a few weeks more, to watch, rest, play, drink, romance, smoke, hide, show, gasp, sleep, escape.

    These roofs are places of peculiar beauty.

    On windless afternoons when the air is all stillness and soupy radiance, the only sounds can be a muted horn and shout, the tremolo redundancy of the ballad of the ice cream man. Skylights poke up from the world below. So do chimneys, antennas and other strange and faintly ghostly protuberances. At certain elevations, there are man-made canyons of brick and glass and parapets like stopped waterfalls. On those cliffs of concrete and steel, there are lounge chairs, topiary, a child's make-believe house, little Greetings from Tar Beach.

    Brittany Hastings, 22, a student, climbs up on long summer afternoons while her boyfriend makes money inside a building somewhere. He makes enough of it that she lives in a luxury skyscraper in the financial district, and she lets a quiet little Yorkshire terrier named Polo keep her company while she sketches.

    "It's easier than going to the park," Ms. Hastings says. "You can go back and forth to the apartment."

    She watches others do so.

    "They eat," she says. "I see ladies lay out."

    And in neighborhoods without buildings described as luxury, a rooftop is a place to play, a place that lures the young with temptations that seem safer to parents than those on the street.

    "A couple of days ago, some kids were throwing onions off the roof," said Cashmere Rodriguez, 16, who lives in the Tremont section of the Bronx. "I think it's kind of crazy."

    It is crazy, probably, as crazy as onions get, and still every generation goes to the roof. "To chill," says Cashmere. "Not get caught with the cops."

    The roofs, though, can be places of danger, too, where summer whimsy can end in a single misplaced footfall.

    A lightning bolt killed Nathan Maddox, 25, the lead singer of a band called Gang Gang Dance, striking him as he danced in the rain on the roof of a girlfriend's building in Chinatown. That was last summer.

    Two years ago, at 2730 Decatur Avenue in the Bronx, 9-year-old Julian Roman dropped from the roof, after jumping from one building to another, and then hanging on with little fingers not up to the task, banging off an air conditioner and landing feet-first with a force that knocked little bones through little wrist. He died within hours.

    Now a sign there speaks in a language too clear for verbs: "Nobody on Roof."

    From a Breeze to a Meal

    The rooftop is a place for remembrance, too, of days before childhood and wonderment grew estranged.

    "We used to call it Pebble Beach because they had pebbles on the roof," says Geraldine Johnson, 43, who grew up in the Marcy Houses in Brooklyn and lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant. "We used to bring out the beach chairs. They'd bring out the couch tables and play Keno. It had a lot to do with the atmosphere. We always found something to do. Kids no longer jump rope. They no longer play tag."

    All grown up, she still finds reason to climb the stairs. "If I hear sirens, I'll go to the roof, just to be nosy," Ms. Johnson said, "because you can see for blocks. And hot nights, there might not be a cool breeze, but there's a breeze."

    These days the rooftops are places for commercial ambition, too. Once only repair workers and people like the Rosenwachs, makers of water towers, conducted business at this elevation.

    Now here is the waitress at Alma, in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, serving 50 diners on the rooftop on a weeknight while four eat in the main dining room below. She carries real peppers past electrically lighted plastic ones to customers who could be in Northern California, judging by the view of apartment houses cascading down a hillside with porthole windows, Spanish tile and porches with curvy, shiny metal rails.

    On the roofs is full-blown agriculture where once there was no flora save perhaps the leftover bouquet of a lovers' rendezvous. Here are the gardeners for Eli's, in a greenhouse atop a building at 91st Street near York Avenue, laying tomatoes, rosemary, coriander, basil and radishes closer to the sun than farmers in Kansas can.

    "Es bonito, beautiful, no?" says Pablo Melendez, 41, of Queens, who makes the garden grow.

    The rooftop of today can be a gallery, too. In Bushwick, Brooklyn, Mark Rosenberg, 28, screens films on a roof. He has done so atop a series of buildings for six summers, at first for lack of an indoor site and now for artistic reasons as well.

    "Out here, you can watch the changing views on the screen with the changing background," he says as a band called Marmalade opens for the movies.

    "Whoo, hoo hoo," the singer sings. The people on the rooftop sit in plastic chairs and listen, or they shy to the edges — the social pariahs with their cigarettes and the owners of cellphones who have better things to do than hear a band or speak to anyone on this rooftop, though they paid $6 to be here.

    The roof is a place, after all, to do as you please.

    On Seventh Street near Avenue D, visitors to a dominatrix are bullwhipped on the rooftop, taking pleasure in the indiscretion.

    The dominatrix, who calls herself the Baroness and says that her husband also calls her the Baroness (she calls him Mark), is in patent leather zippered pants, tied tight tank top, spiked platform heels and necklace of many baubles.

    Her bullwhip, a rubbery stretch of kangaroo hide, whistles and whines as she twirls it overhead. She leans, her weight on her heels and her gaze on the end of the whip. A sharp snap breaks the sound barrier, and the crack resounds as the whistle resumes.

    The Baroness said that she whipped her friends or clients or victims or whatever up on the roof because space was ample. "There's something nice about doing it in the great outdoors."

    A Game of Pigeon

    Atop a building across the street, a pigeonkeeper pays the Baroness no mind. The rooftop is the signature place for the sport known as flying the birds. In Longwood, Bushwick and Gowanus, the sport is what stickball once was in this city. But its players are hidden from view, identifiable only by the pigeons swooping in concentric ovals, 25 feet from the roof and back again.

    Angel Rivera, 39, and his brother Daniel Rivera-Molina, 37, keep two coops on a roof on Prospect Avenue in the Bronx, one for 150 flight pigeons and another for a separate flock of 100. Both men grew up in this building, training the birds, and though they have moved away, they return here daily.

    Stick-on letters on the roof's door spell out "100% S.J. Puerto Rico." A lockbox holds 50-pound bags of seed and bags of leg tags. For furniture, there is an upturned milk crate and a plastic chair that looks like it belongs bedside in an emergency room.

    Daniel drags on cigarettes. Angel sucks a lollipop.

    "The pigeons are a good hobby," Angel says. "It keeps us out of trouble."

    He wedges the lollipop between his lips and climbs into the coop, a 25-square foot box with a wire gate the size of a welcome mat. He crouches. The floor is covered in feathers and feed and muck. He is herding what Daniel calls "the new ones," birds recently captured and not yet trained to return, into a separate enclosure inside.

    It was Daniel who caught the new ones, with a net on the end of a short pole. "I wait for them to come up on top of the cage and I catch them, like that, I scoop them up," he said, bending his arm quickly to demonstrate.

    Angel moved away from the coop's entrance, walking on fully bent knees deeper inside, and the birds emerge. They come out a few at a time, flying at the heads of the men standing a few feet from the coop. Then the others catch on, and the rooftop is a dizzying blur of birds, a dozen at a time, wings pounding air and other wings as the pigeons carom at the heads of the men. Each bird veers up, just in time, like willing losers in a game of chicken.

    Soon they are up and swooping in an oval pattern, as though they are a kite tethered to Angel, who himself emerges from the coop and signs high, separating the birds into separate groups at varying elevations, some flying clockwise and some counter. He signs low and the flock regroups.

    There is a game to be played, too, and for practice the brothers Rivera can use their own second flock. Birds of separate flocks are directed to fly right into one another and then to sort themselves out again.

    "They're going to divide, shoom, and they know which flock they go to," Daniel said.

    Poorly trained birds will follow a stronger flock, and in this manner other people's pigeons can be captured. These can be returned, or not. Angel points down the block, where birds can be seen swooping in similar patterns. They have red and white leg tags. The Rivera birds have silver and yellow.

    "We catch their birds, they catch ours," he says. "We just let them know, `Look, we got one of yours.' Somebody we don't know, if the bird is nice, we keep it, or sell it to the pet shop."

    As the birds return, Luis DeLeon, 39, climbs inside to clean the coop, scraping loose feathers into a bucket. Angel will pay him $10 or $15. The men laugh and joke with Rocky Serrano, a superintendent in apartment buildings a half-mile away.

    The men, who have just met, while away the afternoon together with the birds swooping above, the elevated No. 5 train rattling below, the kid on the skateboard the next rooftop over riding back and forth and the vanishing points of the horizon stretching out high above the city streets.

    It is a life, and a way of it, born of the architecture of the city and handed down to future generations, undiminished by indoor comforts and outdoor fears.

    "You hang out on the roof now, that's trespassing," Mr. Serrano says. "But yeah, they still do it, man."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #2
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    Default Rooftop Life

    I like the dominatrix. Raar.

    I wish I could go up on my roof...

  3. #3

    Default Rooftop Life

    Whip me to new heights.

    I wish I could *get to the roof.

  4. #4


    July 11, 2004


    Sun but No Sand


    Q. When did "tar beach" become part of the New York language? And is there a particular rooftop that owns the distinction of being the first so named?

    A. "Tar beach," as all roof rats know, is the urban alternative to the Hamptons on a hot summer day; it's as near as the flight of stairs outside the apartment door. The 1930's seem likely as a birth date, because it was around then that the suntan became fashionable for the masses. According to "The City in Slang" by Irving Lewis Allen, getting a tan on tar beach was often the preparation for a trip to Coney Island. "By the 1940's,'' he wrote, "city rooftops, those ersatz beaches, were given the fictitious place name tar beach, alluding to the black tarred and graveled rooftops."

    The earliest recorded appearance of the phrase in this newspaper was on Aug. 30, 1941, in an article about a man who was growing 12 ears of corn, tomato plants, green peas and radishes along with colorful blooms on his tenement rooftop at 137 East 33rd Street. The grower, William H. Geis, a rayon salesman, had decorated the place with bamboo screens, deck chairs and cocoa matting. "An Eden Is Found on East Side Roof," the headline read.

    But probably the quintessential Tar Beach is in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum. This one is a story quilt created by the artist Faith Ringgold, who later wrote a book based on the images called "Tar Beach." The story is about a little girl in the Harlem of the 1930's who floats over the roof of her tenement, where her parents eat, laugh and tell stories why she and her little brother lie on a mattress, dreaming that the whole city is theirs.


    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  5. #5
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    Oh, it's been years since I've read Tar Beach. I always loved that story.

  6. #6


    December 5, 2004

    Secret City in the Clouds


    Slide Show: TriBeCa's Secret City

    TRIBECA, a longtime artists' neighborhood turned real estate magnet for the rich and fabulous, doesn't wear its wealth on its sleeve. It wears it on its head. While Wall Street millionaires and media celebrities live in relative anonymity behind the area's unostentatious 19th-century commercial facades, TriBeCa's rooftops are being dressed up in remarkable fashion.

    Even some TriBeCan old-timers, when they climb to a roof to survey the area, are surprised to discover how much of the neighborhood appears to have been furtively outfitted by a luxury haberdasher. From Canal Street south to Murray, from Broadway west to West Street, every third building seems to be topped with a fancy hat.

    Set back from the facades of the buildings they sit on, and thus largely hidden from the street below, these private rooftop structures range from the quietly whimsical to the gleefully sybaritic: an exotic Moroccan tent in red, green and gold; a 75-seat outdoor movie theater with a bubbling hot tub; lush gardens evocative of the English countryside; a private lap pool set into a 2,200-square-foot terrace.

    "They're these oases that nobody knows anything about," said Richard Reichgut, a software marketing executive who lives in hedonistic splendor with his partner, James Ronald Whitney, in a penthouse duplex on Duane Street. "Unless you or a friend has a rooftop, you would have no idea these spaces exist."

    The past five years have seen dozens of additions to the neighborhood's rarefied skyline civilization. But because much of TriBeCa lies within city-designated historic districts and is controlled by a variety of zoning and landmark restrictions, TriBeCa's secret city in the clouds has burgeoned largely out of view of hoi polloi on the pavement below. And it is the hidden nature of these places, along with their sometimes flamboyant, over-the-top ostentation, that is perhaps their most defining feature.

    "It's something new in New York," said David Garrard Lowe, author of the new book "Art Deco New York." "We used to build apartment buildings on Fifth Avenue or West End Avenue that made it clear to anyone going by that this was for upper-middle-class people or the upper class. This new building on top of roofs is, in a sense, a disguise of how much wealth there is. But at the same time, when you go there, they want to make it clear it's opulent."

    TriBeCa's exclusive aeries, atop roofs that in the past were more likely to be decorated with water towers and lawn chairs, are also a telling sign that the city is increasingly home to large numbers of people for whom money is not only no object but practically an afterthought. "It's a very European sense of hiding your wealth, and it becomes very secretive and almost antisocial," Mr. Lowe said. "It's a society headed toward, as they used to say in Naples, public squalor and individual opulence. We don't have public squalor in TriBeCa, but I've seen a couple of those places and it's astonishing. It's a little like Xanadu."

    A Theater, a Shrine, Even a Forest

    When Mr. Reichgut and Mr. Whitney moved to 129 Duane from the Flatiron district in 1997, the spiral staircase in their penthouse loft led up to nothing more glamorous than an expanse of tar and some weathered parapets. Sitting on the roof on a carpet remnant and contemplating the hefty sums that a high-end rooftop addition would entail, Mr. Reichgut pronounced himself happy with the space just as it was.

    "I, on the other hand, envisioned a big movie screen where we could sit in a hot tub and screen dailies instead of sitting in a boring, ugly editing suite," recalled Mr. Whitney, a filmmaker whose 2002 documentary "Telling Nicholas" included images of the World Trade Center collapse that were filmed from the roof. "I think the older you get, the more toys you need."

    Three years and half a million dollars later, the couple's lavish rooftop playpen was complete. On a recent sunny morning, as Ashanti throbbed through 10 outdoor speakers, the pair enumerated the roof's creature comforts. The staircase now led to a set of white leather furniture and a Triton synthesizer inside a gleaming glass-and-steel solarium. Just outside, a steaming hot tub and sleek Philippe Starck chairs and sofas provided seating from which to watch the 15-foot-wide outdoor movie screen. Nor is the couple quite finished.

    "See the plumbing there?" Mr. Whitney said, gesturing toward his rose garden. "That's where the wet bar is going."

    The couple's raffish theater harks back to the grand rooftop gardens of the Gilded Age, with the exclusivity ratcheted up a notch. In the early 1900's, the city's most luxurious hotels, like the Astor on Times Square, had opulent roof gardens, and the New Amsterdam Theater and Madison Square Garden staged revues on their elegant rooftops. But while those gardens were public spaces at which society's nabobs sought to be seen, the invited guests at the Duane Street theater strive to be not seen, perhaps in part so they can indulge freely in what Mr. Whitney calls "naked Jacuzzi romps."

    The sound of clinking glasses atop 129 Duane is sometimes borne on the breeze across Church Street and south to the rooftop hideaway that the architect Matthew Baird has designed atop his loft at 74 Reade Street. The seventh-story sanctuary has at its center a generous master bedroom encased in a box of glass and mill-finished copper. Surrounding the room on three sides is a 1,500-square-foot terraced garden of limestone and South American hardwood, planted with Japanese maples, lilac trees, Russian sage, hydrangeas and Himalayan birch trees.

    Reclining on their outdoor teak daybed, which is edged with wild sea foam roses, Mr. Baird and his wife, Liz, can glimpse tantalizing bits and pieces of other rooftop oases, like the black-and-white desert tent across Church Street that Doug Kaplan, an executive with Sirius Satellite Radio, commissioned from a company in Morocco. "This is sort of the modern TriBeCa," Mr. Baird said. "You can imagine the lap dog in the tent."

    Mr. Kaplan does not, in fact, have a lap dog, but he does have dozens of vibrantly colorful tropical fish swimming around the perimeter of his oasis in a dramatic pool, which is planted in summer with lotus, Egyptian papyrus and wild grasses. When the mood strikes, Mr. Kaplan and his girlfriend, Lauren Hyman, lay out rich Turkish rugs and cushions and relax in their tent by the light of a Moroccan stained-glass lantern, sometimes puffing apple tobacco through a hookah that was purchased, Mr. Kaplan said, from a Lebanese smoke shop "in the exotic West Village."

    The playful extravagance of rooftop additions like Mr. Kaplan's tent is reminiscent of the whimsical follies built by European gentry on their country estates. A similarly fanciful confection stands at the edge of Laurie Weltz's rooftop garden on Reade Street, which features a recirculating stream running through a 400-square-foot lawn. Ms. Weltz's 10-year-old daughter, India, is fascinated with all things Indian, and as a result her family built a double-peaked structure that they call her shrine. Inside the shrine, which is made of gold-painted plywood and wooden latticework, India makes offerings to her little statue of Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu god of wisdom.

    Up at 44 Walker Street, Mark Seth Lender and his wife, Valerie Pettis, have created an aerie with a very different purpose; they have planted their rooftop with 2,100 square feet of forest intended to provide habitat for birds and butterflies. "If I plant this right," said Mr. Lender, a conservation columnist for the Shoreline Times in Connecticut, "you could sit here and be very quiet and you'll see birds that'll knock your brains out." Scooping up a thin gray feather, he said: "See, we had a visitor. That's a mourning dove."

    The Odd Tin Shack, Till the Cash Came In

    The recent rash of outré mid-six- to seven-figure additions to TriBeCa's roofscape are descended from a far more humble, and sometimes oddball, lineage. The early ad hoc roof structures, built by the neighborhood's artistic pioneers before any of the area was subject to landmark regulations, included Quonset huts, idiosyncratic greenhouses and even a red London phone booth that stood on a North Moore Street rooftop as part of a hippie fantasy of urban freedom. "But as eyes became more and more focused on TriBeCa," said Bruce Ehrmann, chairman of Community Board 1's landmarks committee, "more and more things became codified."

    By designating four historic districts in TriBeCa in 1991 and 1992, the city in effect placed much of the area under landmark protection, a move that curtailed the neighborhood's traditionally iconoclastic rooftop behavior. And as the recession of the early 90's gave way to a more robust real estate market, TriBeCa's rooftop additions went upscale in a hurry.

    The 1996 conversion of the Dietz Lantern building at 429 Greenwich Street ushered in a wave of luxury conversions of commercial and industrial buildings. Ever since, according to Barrie Mandel, an executive with the Corcoran Group and a TriBeCa resident, developed rooftops have become de rigueur for new luxury-loft condominiums. Atop the nine-story Dietz Lantern building, for example, two stories were added to form a 50-window penthouse duplex with 5,300 square feet of interior space and a 2,200-square-foot private terrace with a lap pool. The duplex was resold in 2000 for $7 million.

    In the Bazzini Building, a 1999 residential conversion of a nut processing facility at 21 Jay Street, the existing sixth floor was combined with a large rooftop addition to create two penthouse duplexes. In the new tower of the two-building River Lofts at 92 Laight Street, a 4,000-square-foot penthouse with a wraparound terrace was sold to Meryl Streep this year for $9.95 million.

    "Virtually anywhere and everywhere it can be done, it's either being done, or wants to be done," said George Boyle, a local architect working on a hat trick of new rooftop structures along Greenwich Street for three clients. "The land's too valuable."

    While many rooftops are being developed by longtime TriBeCans working within budgets, some of the most eye-popping additions have been built by more recent transplants from uptown. Wealth has been pouring into TriBeCa the last several years, transforming the area into what one local architect calls "the land of the $500 stroller." Since 1999, the average price of a loft has soared 77 percent to $1.6 million, according to statistics provided by the Corcoran Group.

    TriBeCa derives much of its cachet from its heritage as a creative frontier homesteaded by artists, and this artistic pedigree does much to explain the over-the-top roof structures erected with the neighborhood's plentiful new cash. In sharp contrast to the Upper East Side or Westchester, TriBeCa is a traditionally iconoclastic place where status is conferred not on the basis of conformity but on individual, creative expression. As a result, an imaginative, or at least unconventional, gesture is all but expected of anyone who moves to TriBeCa and confronts the blank canvas of an empty loft or roof, especially if he or she has the blank check to go with it.

    "It certainly sounds like new money, doesn't it?" said Stephen Birmingham, who has chronicled the ways of the wealthy in such books as "Life at the Dakota: New York's Most Unusual Address." "What better way to make your friends drop dead than to take them off this kind of scruffy street in TriBeCa and bring them up to this Hollywood vision?"

    Wealth and daring do not, of course, always combine to produce inspired design. But zoning and landmarks restrictions have served to keep most of the rooftop aeries minimally visible and preserved the area's historic, architecturally cohesive feel. "The Landmarks Preservation Commission has done a very, very good job keeping these rooftop extensions within appropriate boundaries," said Mr. Ehrmann of Community Board 1. "Where they're not within appropriate boundaries tends to be as a result of developers trying to squeeze the last square inch out of a conversion project."

    When it comes to winning approval for these rooftop extravaganzas, hiddenness has become a key issue. Though much of TriBeCa's city in the clouds is concealed, it occasionally offers up hints of its existence to earthbound sky gazers: a string of Chinese lanterns, a wayward juniper branch dangling over a cornice. Standing on West Broadway opposite Bouley restaurant, one can even spot, sitting atop a red brick building, the peaked roof of a gray clapboard cottage that one young Duane Street resident, Lucie Lagodich, described as the city home of the Three Bears.

    Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the landmarks commission, said the criterion of minimal visibility had become critical to his agency's decisions as to which projects would be approved. "You can quibble perhaps over what minimally visible is," he said. "But believe me, our experience has been that it really means you can barely see it, or you really have to sort of strain to see it, or you can see it from maybe a 10-yard stretch on Church Street as you're walking north - that sort of thing - and even then you only see a tiny slice of it and only if you're really, really looking for it."

    With outdoor space at a premium in Manhattan, the proliferation of rooftop havens shows no sign of abating, in part because of the financial incentives. According to Jonathan Miller, president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel and author of the widely read Douglas Elliman Manhattan Market Report, a typical high-end developed rooftop in TriBeCa contributes $700,000 to $1 million to a loft's value.

    Such appealing arithmetic has kept local architects busy designing ever more sumptuous rooftop environments. On North Moore Street, Joy and Leonard Toboroff, who already have an elegant 1,000-square-foot roof terrace, purchased the penthouse condo next door and are spending lavish sums to combine the two roofs into a palatial entertaining space, complete with a formal outdoor dining room, pergola, mahogany decking and lush plantings watered by a computerized irrigation system.

    "It will allow for an elaborate, choreographed dinner party, fully staffed," said Stephen Corelli, their architect. "The design of the terrace provides seamless integration from predinner cocktails to dinner to after-dinner drinks and cigars in a finely articulated sequence of individual spaces." However, since the couple's primary residence is in France, the new space will be used mostly in late summer and fall.

    Spurning the Stoop for Good?

    Annie Nocenti, former editor of High Times magazine and a longtime TriBeCan, sees an insidious undercurrent to the wealthy removing themselves to such lofty heights. "When you see urban films or the photographs of Jacob Riis," Ms. Nocenti pointed out, "everyone sits on the stoops. Stoop sitting is a poor-person thing to do, and you're part of the street. If you're up on a rooftop, you're isolating yourself, and I have absolutely no interest in isolated utopias." Besides, she added, "most utopias turn out to be dystopias."

    The closest to dystopia that owners of these luxe rooftop extensions would acknowledge are bothersome leaks or, in the case of the Duane Street rooftop theater, high winds that once loosened the big movie screen and threatened to send it crashing through the skylight above its owners' bed. Such occupational hazards of high living seem unlikely to diminish the number of TriBeCan penthouse owners seeking greater proximity to the heavens. At least three major new condominium developments are slated to come onto the market in the next three years, while more owners of existing penthouse lofts are likely to see their neighbors' Shangri-Las and conclude that their ancient ladder-and-hatch access to the old tar roof just won't cut it anymore.

    Mark Winkelman, a TriBeCa architect, said that he has developed a simple standard for determining whether a client's existing roof space and access are in need of an upgrade. "I have the martini test," he said. "Can you make a martini in your kitchen and get it all the way up to the roof without spilling it?"

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  7. #7
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    You'd need to memorize the five-day forecast to make sure that nothing gets wet or blown away.

  8. #8
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Gallery: 8 Amazing Hidden Rooftop Houses

    From solar arrays and green roofs to exquisite gardens and massive farms, rooftops in New York City boast a lot more than just air conditioners and water towers. Covering our buildings' roofs is a hallmark of sustainable building, and in a dense urban landscape like the Big Apple, it also makes total sense for maximizing our space. While green gardens and relaxing sundecks are no-brainers, what about entire houses? More than a few New Yorkers have turned building rooftops into their own private plots. Not only are these abodes a unique twist on green roofs, but they add some unexpected variety to our concrete jungle. Hit the jump for a look at NYC's sky-high homes.

    We have long been fans of green prefab houses, and what better place to plop one down than on a rooftop? The sleek LoftCube is a chic and cheerful prefab designed specifically for rooftops. Designed by Werner Aisslinger, the square structure can be transported by helicopter and costs around $60,000 — a total steal for a rooftop apartment in New York City. For something even cheaper, the $2000 prefab Icosa Village Pod has been spotted on a Williamsburg rooftop. The geodesic dome folds into itself and can be easily assembled just about anywhere.

    If rooftop prefabs can’t get you excited, what about an A-frame cottage or Cape Cod bungalow? Nick Carr, a film location scout, has documented a handful of fully-built rooftop homes that look like they were picked up in a tornado and accidentally dropped in NYC. On top of an East Village apartment building, there’s an ocean front beach house, complete with a horse weather vane, and between West 77th and West 78th Streets, there is a cute A-frame hidden on top of a building.

    Of course, not all rooftop homes are cute and compact. This is New York City, after all, home of the extravagant lifestyle. Carr spotted a full-fledged suburban home — with a chimney! — on top of a 4 story building at 13th Street and 3rd Avenue. The wooden structure spans the entire building and even has a patio. There’s also a gorgeous, glass-walled 3-story house atop an unidentified building that has a deck on its own rooftop. Others have turned building rooftops into whole suburban landscapes, with a house, a yard, and a shed. Hey, why sacrifice city living for suburbia when you can create a better version in the middle of Manhattan?

    Via Huffington Post (For more pictures see

    8 Amazing Hidden Rooftop Houses You’ve Probably Never Noticed in New York City LoftCube in NYC – Inhabitat New York City

  9. #9


    Apartment with water tank ‘getaway’ hits the market for $3.6 million

    A former terra cotta water tower atop an E. 12th St. building is a Zen space with steel and glass windows stretching up one side and a skylight.

    By Gina Pace / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

    Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012, 6:45 PM
    Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012, 7:23 PM

    Courtesy of Prudential Douglas Elliman

    A water tank turned getaway at E. 12th Street.

    After a few days, you probably want to lock your house guests in the water tank on the roof. At one Greenwich Village penthouse, you can.

    (At left, an interior view of a water tank that is converted into a getaway. Photo courtesy Prudential Douglas Elliman)
    Architecture firm Messana O'Rorke took a former terra cotta water tower atop an E. 12th St. building, blow-torched out the cast-iron lining and turned it into a Zen space with steel and glass windows stretching up one side and a skylight to make the space feel like a retreat.
    "The trick to the whole project was being reserved with architecture and design and letting the space just express itself," said architect Brian Messana who collaborated with Toby O'Rorke on the project. "We could have done a lot more, made some insertions of more windows, but that would have dematerialized the purity."
    The tower suite is just part of a $3.6 million unit that includes a roof deck and a two-bedroom penthouse.
    Messana O'Rorke also created the sleek interiors of the main space with opaque glass pocket doors throughout, as well as a skylight by the bathroom's mirror so you can perfect a makeup look that will show well in natural light.
    Courtesy of Prudential Douglas Elliman

    The spa-like bathroom in the main apartment.

    Courtesy of Prudential Douglas Elliman

    The outside deck and a view of the water tank's window.

    Anthony Lanzilote for New York Daily News

    An apartment located at E 12th St. with a living room made from a converted water tower.

    "No developer on a condo project would ever think of something with this level of detail," Prudential Douglas Elliman broker Melanie Lazenby said, touting how the bar in the kitchen hides the barstools for a nice clean line.
    "It's a really chic space that's great for entertaining."
    Courtesy of Prudential Douglas Elliman

    The main living space of the apartment.

    Read more:

  10. #10
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003



    Man... You would have to wear a haz-mat suit just to come in the front door for fear of marking something.

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