SKY IS THE LIMIT | Landscape Architecture Magazine

SKY IS THE LIMIT | Landscape Architecture Magazine

On what was the moment a dingy rooftop, HMWhite created a system that targeted on procession and private moments. Photo © Tishman Speyer.


In the 1st 50 {6d6906d986cb38e604952ede6d65f3d49470e23f1a526661621333fa74363c48} of the 20th century, Rockefeller Center established new urban layout specifications. Its characteristics have come to be New York City cultural fixtures: the Rainbow Area, the Channel Gardens, and the grand promenade top to the substantial, gilded Prometheus statue hovering higher than the sunken ice rink. From the outset, the landscape elevated the street working experience, and occupants in the office towers over benefited from building setbacks with exquisitely groomed terrace parterres overlooking Fifth Avenue.

Strategies for even further rooftop enhancement, such as parks and regular parterre gardens, boxwood-framed once-a-year flower beds, and a series of sky bridges, remained unfulfilled—until the serious estate behemoth Tishman Speyer took ownership and lively administration of the 19-creating, 22-acre Rockefeller Centre in 2001, building renovations and structural upgrades in advance of concentrating on facilities for place of work tenants. At Radio City Tunes Corridor, 9 stories previously mentioned the eye-superior-kicking Rockettes, a dingy brown half acre of roof lay empty, other than for three pavilions housing pulleys and mechanisms to run Radio Town theater curtains, scrims, and other stage tools.

Hank White, FASLA, the founding principal of HMWhite, experienced been doing the job on a new household project at a Tishman Speyer assets somewhere else in New York when Chris McCartin, a managing director at the corporation, questioned for a landscape proposal for Radio City’s rooftop to enhance the adjacent interior tenant facilities spot. “The expectation was to have an equivalent layout difference to the Channel Gardens,” White suggests. He quickly wanted to build a room with an aura of mystery and celebrate the attractiveness and symmetry of the canyon of surrounding structures. “It took 15, 20 minutes to devise a prepare that was all about procession, coming into a contained area,” White claims. “And then—during COVID-19—we experienced agreement drawings by January 2021, design started out in late April 2021, and we experienced it accomplished in seven weeks. It was an economics-pushed rush deadline.”

White applied 21st-century principles and technological advances—maximizing the amount of trees by coordinating their spot with the roof’s structural beam grid coordinating a layered subsurface geofoam topography with deeper escalating medium zones for each and every tree utilizing light-weight, non-settling growing medium—to realize Radio Park. He steered slyly absent from the axial orientation of the historic gardens (some of which can be glimpsed on terraces down the West 50th Street block). From the indoor amenity place, the pavilions, clad in copper doorways enriched with a blue patina, variety the park entry and established a contemplative mood. Light dips and curves of a pathway ahead invite checking out. Revelation of plantings, colours, textures, appears, movement, and spatial context all arrive little by little.

“Memorable landscape knowledge is all about to start with impact,” says White, who conceived the park in 3 parts: an 87-tree birch forest as a “spatial wrap” a Yoshino cherry grove with “all white-flowering vegetation blossoming at diverse times” and the Belvedere, a stern row of European hornbeams across the western edge of the rooftop. “We labored with structural engineers to build the topography and employed the roof’s purposeful organization via a room-producing topographic composition,” White says. Developing vents and other components stayed place, but with planting beds cleverly blended in, along with benches made of splashy Alaskan yellow cedar. A few bench tiers forget about a garden and dense patch of consistently pruned boxwoods. Tree root balls required 30 inches of increasing medium, all the superior to give surface undulation to the usually flat roof.

“By blanketing roofs with thermal insulating landscapes, buildings will profit from major electrical power conservation charges and extended roof waterproofing lifestyle cycles,” White suggests.

Stepping away from the axial orientation of other Rockefeller Middle gardens, Radio Park pathways curve and dip gently, flanked by the boxwood-framed garden and birch forest. Picture © Tishman Speyer.

Devoid of apology, this modest-but-mighty plot of mother nature is juxtaposed with the substantial crafted ecosystem in which it sits. “The seem of leaves mitigates the sounds of the metropolis,” White says. “And one particular [can contemplate] the mysterious juncture of landscape and developing. Natural and organic against gentleman-built truly brings us closer to character. These sorts of areas and accessibility are very important to the urban residing affliction.”

White says that the moment the very last trowel tucked the final plant into earth, birds and butterflies uncovered this new skyward patch “within minutes” and flittered into Radio Park, with all the purely natural grace and belonging of the dancers downstairs.