If you had a serious heart problem which doctor would you visit: a general practitioner or a heart specialist? After all, both have medical degrees, licenses to practice medicine, and most likely want to do the most they can to improve your health.
You may have asked yourself a similar (but perhaps less obvious) question about who to hire for the design of outdoor space on your next development project. It can be difficult to find the right fit for your project from a sea of generalist landscape architects. But if you have a serious design challenge or a particularly critical outdoor space, wouldn’t you want to make sure to have a specialist on your team?
The Success or Failure of Rooftop Amenities
With a serious heart problem you would definitely need to get help from the heart specialist. You would understand that despite the many ways your primary physician had helped you in the past, your unique situation called for a heart expert. There would be a lot at stake including your health, your happiness, and potentially a very large sum of your money.
There will be times when you know the success of your project is largely influenced by the success of the outdoor amenity space. It may be that your project is high-profile or on a contested site and you need to put your best foot forward and impress or appease the public. They’re going to see the outdoor spaces everyday so it’s important to get it right. Perhaps your project is in a luxury market in a dense, urban downtown area and your competition has outstanding outdoor amenities. You need to distinguish your property with a unique, never-before-seen creative outdoor space. Maybe you know your project needs a rooftop amenity in order to be competitive, but you aren’t sure how to make it “pencil”. These particular challenges, among others, are reasons to partner with a rooftop amenity specialist.
What do you stand to lose if you don’t get your outdoor amenity space right? The lifetime value of your project will be impacted. Without an active, vibrant community bolstered by heavily used social spaces, your tenants make fewer connections and turnover increases. You find you have invested a lot of money with minimal impact. Without compelling and purposeful outdoor amenities your property pales in comparison to your competition and vacancy soars. The marketability of your property is diminished and your bottom line takes a big hit.
Experience and Expertise
Because a well-designed outdoor living space is one of the elements encompassed in the whole living experience, it is an essential component of the overall architectural design. In an urban setting, the high cost of land pushes for smaller units at higher density. As a result, outdoor living spaces on rooftops are standard common area amenities. They are something you simply can’t do without.
Designing rooftop amenities is complex and involved. There are hundreds of constraints due to weight, waterproofing, size, and a myriad of building codes. You must coordinate with all disciplines including architecture, MEP, structural, civil, and interior. A successful rooftop space calls for technical experience and expertise that can be hard to find in a generalist.
Furthermore, a truly unique and creative rooftop space can only be created by knowing your way around the limitations of building on a roof. In fact, a solid understanding of the technical aspects opens the door to more creative designs. An experienced rooftop amenity specialist knows what works, and what doesn’t. This expertise lends itself to innovation.
In addition to technical ability, rooftop amenity specialists know what your tenants and buyers want to see. They understand how people use space, what draws them there, and what is going to sell your property.
The Power of a Strategic Partnership
The choice to partner with a rooftop specialist is a strategic decision. It can have indelible effects on the long term success of your project. It’s an approach that yields powerful results both in quality design and return on investment.
Having an expert design your rooftop and outdoor living experiences is like having a heart specialist treating your heart condition. They can diagnose what is happening and they know what needs to be done. They can save you and your project from the symptoms of poorly planned and executed amenities. You wouldn’t hire just anybody to weigh in on your health. Make the strategic choice and find the right creative and technical specialist for the design of your rooftop and outdoor amenities.
Editor’s Note: Originally published January 30, 2017. Updated February 18, 2020 with a fresh take on the topic.