Welcome to Spring! Along the Front Range, the weather can be very interesting this time of year- like 80’s one day and then a wet snow storm! I thought this month we could take a look at some unusual roofs- let’s face it, most roofs are only there to keep out the weather and the vandals, but you can stick some interesting stuff up on top of a building….for instance, the hotel pool- how about the one at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore?
It’s an infinity edge pool, 55 stories above the ground, spanning the 3 towers of the hotel. There are also quite a few rooftop bars, some fairly low level ones around LoDo, with the Sky Bar at Sirocco in Bangkok, taking top prize as the world’s highest open air bar at 63 stories. In Dubai, where they apparently spend a lot of time building things just to prove they can be built, there’s a tennis court 211 meters above the ground, about the same height as 1801 California (the “Century Link” building). Although the infamous roller coaster atop the Stratosphere in Las Vegas is gone, there are still some rides on the roof, and other rooftop roller coasters elsewhere. In densly populated Copenhagen, architects created a rooftop “playground”, really a rooftop hill covered with grass for inner city kids to frolic upon. Somebody with a lot of imagination came up with the idea of a rooftop trailer park, the Grand Daddy Hotel in Capetown, South Africa features 7 vintage (and imported) Airstream trailers, customized and featuring hip custom décor, are parked on the hotel roof and available as guest rooms. In Melbourne, Australia, you can see a movie at the Rooftop Cinema, 6 stories up and open to the sky above. And it seems that everywhere folks are growing things on the roof- at Ford’s River Rouge plant in Detroit, which was first built around World War I, sprouts the world’s largest “green” or vegetated roof system, over 10 acres of soil and sedum, a “ground cover” type of plant that is proving itself especially viable for rooftop conditions- not only does the roof provide greenery and relief from the acres of industrial roofs all around, Ford expects the roof to last twice as long as a conventional installation, due to the waterproofing membrane being protected from UV and temperature swings by the mass of soil and plants on top- and skipping a roof replacement on a building this size will save millions of dollars. And co-op gardeners and chefs from Brooklyn to Chicago to Vancouver are growing vegetables and even chickens on rooftops, so you can eat “local’ even in the heart of the big city. Perhaps the most innovative of all, I have heard of a company that painted a “QR” code that can be scanned with a cell phone on their roof, so that when someone looks at their building using GoogleEarth (or, I suppose, happens to be flying over) they can instantly access the company website- who knows what we’ll be sticking on roofs in the future!