Royal York


Extensive Residential

Project: The Royal York Condominium, 14,000 square foot green roof
Design, Installation, Maintenance: Town and Gardens, Ltd. (Award Winner)
Drainage System: Colbond & Geoedge
Irrigation Components: Toro & Rain Bird

“What’s unique about the space is that we were able to make it seem larger in what is actually a very narrow space, while integrating not only green roof components, but also sculptural elements to enhance the concept.”

- Michael Franco, Town and Gardens, Ltd.

Located in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, NY, the inner courtyard at The Royal York Condominium covers approximately 15,000 square feet and occupies a two-level roof and ground level garden space between three residential buildings. Redevelopment created the exciting opportunity to expand the visual impact and usability of the space for residents. Following major waterproofing leaks into the parking garages below, the building embarked upon a complete renovation of the roof membrane along with repairs to the brick walls.

The site was a blank canvas when Town and Gardens was brought into the project. Beyond the central connection points there was nothing in the space that helped stimulate an obvious strategy for how to develop this courtyard. In order to make sense of such a large area with few natural features to provide guidance, the team explored naturally open spaces to establish a design framework. Eventually, they discovered that open water matched the characteristics of the space; to the untrained eye, large open bodies of water appear flat or curved with little sense of direction and order. However, for ships there is an order to these spaces. Through maps, oceans are bisected into navigation routes. These lines divide bodies of water into a series of two-dimensional angular spaces.


Using this framework the team subdivided the two plazas into a series of bisecting lines that create multiple textured areas and paths, reflecting the movements of the ocean. The multi-textured areas allowed them to incorporate sweeps of ground cover vegetation and decorative hardscape materials (over the limited depth roof area). As part of this concept the team also incorporated a series of planters, benches, and sculptural lattice panels that are symbolic of ships moving through these open spaces. The design also incorporated lighting into this concept with frosted glass panels that appear in the paths as dashes distributed along the directions of travel. At dusk the lights come on and radiate from white to a dark blue throughout the garden.

The four-to-five inch growing media supports groundcover plants such as Pachysandra, and perennials such as Heuchera and Liriopi . The sailboat planters have their own distinctive plant selection, making the green roof as a whole, look quite stunning. Town and Gardens’ comprehensive design at the Royal York expands the visual palate of extensive green roofs. Beyond its aesthetic offerings, the project has also provided a functional space for residents thereby exemplifying what is possible to accomplish through a green roof.

Green Infrastructure Design Charrette

About Green Roofs

by Steven Peck
GRHC founder/president

Want to Receive GRHC News?

emailIcon50Get updates including a free digital subscription to the Living Architecture Monitor.
Click Here

Become a Green Roofs Member

grhc logo80Join our growing community...

Click Here

Green Infrastructure Store

GIS Logo80Your source for manuals, proceedings, books, and more.
Click Here

The Rise of Living Architecture Book

coverimage110Order your copy of The Rise of Living Architecture Commemorative Edition
and learn from over 50 experts in the green roof and wall industry.

Green Roof Policy Brochure

World Green Infrastructure Congress


Living Architecture Monitor Magazine

LAM Spring 2017 cover