Rendering to Reality

Design Build  |   NYC, NY


Design | Installation

From Rendering to Reality

Our firm was approached by the owners of this building to collaborate on the design of the Sky Lounge terrace of their sustainably developed commercial building in the Union Square neighborhood of New York City. The building was seeking LEED Gold certification and the terrace was an important part of the amenity package being marketed to attract new potential tenants. The client wanted to create a space where residents would come to have lunch, and also private events.

In order to achieve the building’s goal of LEED Gold certification, we needed to create a sustainable landscape design with an appropriate plant palette for the weather conditions experienced on the terrace. The entrance to the space has 2 separate entrances, and two major viewsheds. Each entrance provides beautiful backdrops of the surrounding buildings that we wanted to accentuate. Also, based on the intent of allowing access to the terrace year-round, multi-seasonal interest in the plant palette was crucial.



Working with this client brought me back to LA 101, passionate discussions of plants and design made it easy to accent the already beautiful views from this rooftop. One of my favorite projects I've had the privilege to be a part of.

Matthew Spencer



The roof itself has intense direct sunlight and high winds over the majority of the terrace. In order to create areas of shade, the architect created a beautiful photovoltaic overhang structure. This element not only creates shade during the day, but also absorbs sunlight to power the lighting fixtures under the structure to provide dramatic lighting at night.

The extreme differences in natural light between the areas under the shade structure and the rest of the terrace led us to the development of a very specific plant palette featuring 2 zones. The full sun area features a meadow design with different varieties of grasses and perennials. Under the shaded areas we created a woodland floor vibe with Ferns and Oakleaf hydrangea. For areas that spanned both lighting conditions we utilized Smoke Bush and multiple evergreens to create year-round interest through foliage and bark.

To begin the collaborative design process, we created and shared a conceptual mood board with the rest of the design team. The mood board captured the color schemes, planting textures, and emotions that we were looking to elicit with the landscape elements. We also included reference photos of inspirational landscapes found in nature that we looked to reference in the final design.

One of the major elements of the design are the “flush” planters that appear to be growing out of the terrace. Creating the appropriate depth for these areas was a challenge based on how much height we were able to inherit between the existing roof and the paver line. This condition also varied across the span of the roof. We utilized landscape EPS foam to make up for any differences in height. 

Based on a great collaborative process with the owner and the other design consultants, the project went smoothly. The client provided clear feedback and direction throughout the project which allowed for a seamless design and installation process. Many varieties of the plant material came in very lush which provided instant impact upon installation. Based on feedback from our maintenance team that continues to service the terrace, these plants were the perfect choice for the site conditions as they continue to thrive in the space, without any replacements needed thus far.


Matthew Wessol

Matthew Wessol

Matthw Spencer

Matthw Spencer

This is our least maintenance intensive sight! The Pallet is mainly comprised of New York natives. This is the perfect example of right plant right place.

Matthew Wessol

Matthew Wessol