At the James Hotel in downtown Manhattan, we were charged with creating a park in the sky. The jutting open space on the fifth floor of the hotel that is visible from Sixth Avenue, became our canvas for a multi-leveled, varied use, elevated park.

Creeping ivy facade

This hotel served as a blank canvas for Rebecca Cole GROWs and plants and pots became the painter’s brush.

Custom wood planters
The James Hotel

We incorporated green roof and container gardening to create a grassy knoll, a wooded forest, a picnic area, a place for a boat (art piece), hills and even streams.

The park began as a swath of concrete and we turned it onto a large green roof. The soil is built into the building. A mix of container gardening and green roof gardening provides levels and overhangs.

Overgrown vine beauty
Annual container planting
Golden evergreens in the winter sun
The James Hotel

The light and rain exposure is massively different from space to space. This presents a challenge in plant selection and irrigation. From a design perspective it’s difficult to repeat elements when the conditions are so varied. To provide a natural solution we planted ivies that grow quickly and cover the rust and cement of the building.

The tiered façade on sixth avenue has plants spilling over the walls. On the street below is a public basketball court with massive trees surrounding it. Those trees and the trees from the hotel have become one, so that it looks like the park has been extended into the sky.