We New Yorkers love our water towers. These seeming relics of technology are actually still the best way to trap rainwater for apartment building use. This garden features one prominently.

A relaxing seat under the water tower

A beautiful rooftop terrace under the water tower and stories up and away from the noisy streets of the Upper West Side.

Woven African furniture
View of the water tower

On the plus side—what a joy to design a garden around this iconic symbol of New York architecture. On the challenging side, we needed to provide public access for maintenance. Additionally, this garden is on the rooftop of a historic landmark building. There is no overstating the number of rules and regulations New York City’s historic buildings demand.

Arper outdoor furniture
Miscanthus gass with a view

No elements could drape from the building or be seen from the street. Originally a black tar roof, we were limited on how much wood we could use. We built a raised wooden deck but could only cover a portion of the roof.

We took advantage of the two tiers to include many containers filled with flowers and herbs to obscure “tar beach.” The orange and rust colors of the bricks, the water tower, and the neighboring buildings are mimicked in the containers and cushions.

Modern rooftop landscape design
Dining with a view

The clients are world travelers so some of their objet d’art was used (chairs from Africa and urns from Bali). These needed to look like they belonged. The finished product combines New York tradition with worldly accents and expands the living space for our clients for many months out of the year.