Book to Read: "Up on the Roof: New York's Hidden Skyline Spaces"

Book to Read: "Up on the Roof: New York's Hidden Skyline Spaces"

July 18, 2012
Photo by: Alex MacLean

For his book, Up on the Roof: New York’s Hidden Skyline Spaces (Princeton Architectural Press), photographer Alex MacLean went up so that he could look down. From the vantage of a helicopter, MacLean documented the city, shooting iconic water towers, architectural details, green roofs, and elaborate multiuse spaces. The resulting images give a new perspective on life in New York and point to the city’s potential. As Robert Campbell writes in the book’s introduction: “Rooftops will be the lungs of the denser city of the future.” MacLean tells us more about what his book reveals.  

 GARDEN DESIGN: What was your inspiration?
ALEX MACLEAN: I saw a Google Earth image of a rooftop in New York’s Tudor City that made it look like a castle. Once I started scouting, I was amazed by how much stuff was on roofs—swimming pools, playgrounds, restaurants, and spaces that resembled suburban backyards.  

 GD: How can cities benefit from green roofs?
AM: Ultimately, urbanism provides a much more energy-efficient way of living. Green-planted roofs help with water retention during storms and reduce street flooding and overflows at wastewater treatment facilities. They reduce the ambient temperatures and clean the air by filtering out dust and other air particles.   

GD: What would be your ideal urban outdoor space?
AM: I love to garden, so I’d want to grow flowers and vegetables. It would be nice to have an exercise bike. And I’d love to have a big tree and a hammock. 

To order a copy of Up on the Roof, click here.

This article was first published in Garden Design July/August 2012