The Walker Street Penthouse was designed as a respite in lower Manhattan from the urban environment that surrounds it. This retreat is facilitated by an undulating wooden screen composed of 1” x 4” reclaimed lumber, the terminus of which is a teahouse. Building on the penthouse terrace presented a unique set of logistical problems; roof access was limited to what can fit in the building’s elevator. Furthermore, the client emphasized quick, cost-effective construction, during the winter months. ORE determined that in order to meet these challenges, we would not only design the terrace, but coordinate and carry out its construction.

Crucial to this process is a design that affords simple construction. ORE responded to this challenge by designing a panelized construction system predicated on a custom-designed threaded tie rod. This allows for panels that can be assembled off site, carried to the roof via elevator, and rapidly erected. The pre-cast custom tie rod engages the complex curves of the screen, permitting each member to be individually positioned, creating rhythmic visual complexity. As each member is threaded onto the tie rod, its position can be minutely adjusted, defining planters and seating as well as enclosures.

The Rooftop Tea House started as a design-build experiential investigation of programmatic space activation within the margins of a laid-out terrace in Manhattan. For the client it was very important to activate certain areas with social experiences obscured from the visual connection of the neighboring taller buildings.Along the West parapet, a screen encloses a garden that, through rotation along an axis, transitions into a bench, and then wraps on its own to define a tea house. The tea house is a meditation space, providing reprieve from the distractions of the urban environment that surrounds it. A lightly supported roof creates a halo of natural light that interacts in a vivid way with the light introduced through the instances in which an acrylic member is introduced in the screen.

The architectural pieces designed for the terrace were custom detailed with site specific properties to be fabricated and installed by ORE Design and Technology. All pieces proposed share simple custom connection details that allow them to be lightly assembled in pre-fabricated panels for easy transportation and on-site installation. The minimalistic connection system that composes the screens enables them to rotate, flex, and acquire very complex and organic properties. This plasticity permits for opportunities in which a single piece can flex in various ways to create planters, furniture, and semi-private enclosures and spaces. The system allows for the screens to create rhythmic systematic visual complexities through the alternation of 1×4 recycled lumber and 1×4 acrylic members.

The Rooftop Teahouse, in lower Manhattan, is a respite from the urban environment that surrounds it. The terminus of a wooden screening element that manifests throughout the roof terrace, the tea house is defined by an undulating wall of 1×4 recycled lumber. Because the tea house scheme is unprecedented, ORE is not only designing it but also building it. This entails building detailed models, as well as constructing mock ups on site. Crucial, too, is a design that affords simple construction. ORE’s custom-designed threaded tie rod facilitates this, as it enables off site assembly and panelization. This, in turn, means that sections of the tea house can be carried up, fully assembled, to the penthouse terrace via elevator. This minimal connection system allows for each member to be individually positioned, creating rhythmic visual complexities.

Client: Ik Joong Kang
Program: Rooftop Terrace
Location: New York, NY
Area: 5,000 sf
Status: Partially Completed 2012