Chicago Apartment Building’s Roof Deck Offers Residents Relaxation and Entertainment Options

Residents can recline on the sundeck in individual lounge chairs or together on wide wooden day beds and gaze out onto the lake beyond.

Residents can recline on the sundeck in individual lounge chairs or together on wide wooden day beds and gaze out onto the lake beyond.

As residents exit the elevator and its glass-enclosed foyer, they first encounter the Central Passive Garden and main dining area. Ishikawa shaped spots for individuals through furnishings, like single seats in the central garden that look over the sundeck toward water views. Long stretches of tables with seating all on the same side allow singles to feel comfortable having lunch or making a phone call.

Just below the central garden, residents can recline on the sundeck in individual lounge chairs or together on wide wooden day beds and gaze out onto the lake beyond.

Grouped seating around the roof deck’s grilling stations, fire pits, wet bars and tables provides a range of social entertainment options.

The furthest western “room” on the roof deck is the outdoor theater. A large lawn in front of the big-screen monitor provides relaxed seating and serves as a picnic area, outdoor yoga studio and casual stage for a musical group. People can rent the theater and other areas on the roof deck for parties and special events.

Although the generous views to the water and Chicago skyline are expansive, the designers kept the scale human with the outdoor rooms, diverse-sized furniture groupings and plant selections.

A large lawn in front of the big-screen monitor provides relaxed seating and serves as a picnic area, outdoor yoga studio and casual stage for a musical group.

A large lawn in front of the big-screen monitor provides relaxed seating and serves as a picnic area, outdoor yoga studio and casual stage for a musical group.

Plants and Materials

Ishikawa says the landscaping choices help connect and differentiate spaces. “We capitalized on the opportunity to do something with different plant life and selected plants in various colors,” she recalls. “The plants are laid out in a drift-like pattern, recalling a river or stream, to make the textures and colors feel more natural and create a constant changing landscape throughout the seasons.”

Because rooftop conditions with limited soil volumes can be tough on plants, site design group chose native, droughttolerant, tried-and-tested species, including allium, bluestem, coneflower, fescue, hypericum and junipers.

Natural materials, like stone, give the spaces a sense of warmth and make them more inviting. The main gas fire pit’s base is filled with stones and the sides of the fire pit are gabion basket—stones held in with metal mesh. Granite accents throughout the deck were specified in a blue/charcoal color. In the northern section, site design group added a rectangular rock garden internally sculpted by a decoratively shaped sedum mat.

The use of wood in benches, day beds, partitions, wall accents, and a wood and steel trellis also generates warmth. Most of the wood is Ipe, an extremely dense Brazilian hardwood that is rot-resistant and durable enough to stand up to Chicago’s brutal winter weather. Some furniture is built-in and custom-made for the deck. Metals in the project are mostly stainless steel or black-painted steel.

Lighting takes several forms, such as down lighting at the canopy area, strip lighting near the fire pit, and round white balls throughout the deck that provide soft light and sculptural interest.

As a landscape designer, Ishikawa brings a unique perspective to the urban project. “We wanted to make the deck inspiring and functional today, but one of the most interesting things about landscape architecture is that we have to visualize how it will look tomorrow,” she says. “The roof deck is a living space that will change as the plants grow and we need to ensure that it remains inviting long into the future.”

Retrofit Team

Owner/Client(s): AH River East LLC/Group Fox, Chicago
Landscape Architect: site design group ltd., Chicago
Architects(s): Fitzgerald Associates Architects, Chicago, and Ghafari Associates, Chicago
Engineer(s): Stearn-Joglekar Ltd., Chicago, Klaucens & Associates Inc., Northbrook, Ill., and Shiner + Associates Inc., Chicago
Roofing Contractor: A-1 Roofing Co., Elk Grove Village, Ill.
Landscape Contractor: Intrinsic Landscaping Inc., Glenview, Ill.

Materials

Adhered Energysmart Roof Using 60-mil Sarnafil G 410 Membrane in White: Sika Corp.
Glass Wall Systems: Nanawall
Wilshire Planter: Tournesol Siteworks
Palisade Bench: Landscape Forms
Firepit: Ore, orecontainers.com
Custom Gabion Basket: Intrinsic Landscaping
Bollard, Square: Bega
Bogard Two-Seater, Armchair and Coffee Table: Mamagreen
Zudu Ottoman and Havana Mudlar Sofa: Mamagreen
Oko Bistro Stool and Lounger Batyline: Mamagreen
Sparta Dining Table: Mamagreen
Wood Trellis, Wood-Clad Bench with Storage and Wood-Clad Planter: Custom

Photos: Scott Shigley, Shigley Photo

About the Author

KJ Fields
KJ Fields writes about design, sustainability and health from Portland, Ore.

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