Capitalizing on Underutilized Roof Space: An Interview with Chicago Roof Deck & Garden. As we inch closer to summer, we naturally plan additional activities outdoors. Whether it’s entertaining family or friends, relaxing with a great book, or simply soaking up some rays, roof decks and gardens offer vast opportunities to improve your quality of life.
Based on a study released in February 2014 by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), landscape architects in the residential sector rated the expected popularity of outdoor living spaces — defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces — a close second to gardens and landscaped spaces.Subsequently, it’s no surprise that the “leisure lifestyle” is now a $6.2 billion industry and growing (Fordyce 2013). Gone are the days of a simple table and chairs on a roof. Today’s roof decks and gardens can be rather elaborate, featuring a full array of amenities, from lounge space to fire features. I had the opportunity to sit down with Mike Maschmeyer, owner and designer at Chicago Roof Deck & Garden , to learn about his company and get his take on the rapidly emerging outdoor living industry. Here’s what Mike had to say: Tell me a little bit about Chicago Roof Deck & Garden. What motivated you to start the company? Roof deck design and build is a unique niche that typically requires urban compact living spaces. It’s also a function of capitalizing on underused outdoor living space on top of garages, multi-unit buildings, single-family homes, and commercial office buildings. When our clients started saying they have this amazing oversized three-car garage, what can you do with it, how can I maximize my investment? That’s when we started thinking about creating outdoor urban gardens.
In terms of payback/return on investment, what are the ideal installation conditions?
We generally tell clients our goal is to get you back 75 percent of your investment into your outdoor space — your enhanced quality of life will make up the delta 25. Mathematically, we’ll also tell them (our clients) they can invest five to seven percent of their condo or single-family home into their outdoor space. Generally speaking, as long as they’re going to be there for a period of two or more years, the target number is 75 percent return on investment. Why would someone want to have a roof deck or garden? It starts with do they like the outdoors, that’s really the initial question. Do they appreciate fresh air and plants? Do they have property that has a view, which allows them to imagine? If they want to be outdoors, we can create an environment that will maximize the experience they wish to achieve from their space.What’s your favorite plant to specify for a roof garden? Our clients typically want a combination of threefold: early spring annuals, summer annuals, fall annuals, and winter greenery. Also, mixed in are perennials and sedums plus perennial grasses for texture and privacy screens. I really enjoy the serviceberry, because it blooms in the spring, has a pretty red berry in the summer, and has gorgeous fall color. For aspiring young designers, what advice would you provide them if they’re seeking a career in outdoor living design/build? You can be the greatest designer in the world, but if you can’t interpret and understand people and grasp their lifestyle and how they view their outdoor space, you’ll have a difficult time. In addition, understanding and having a sense of space is key, particularly in an urban environment where you have to maximize every aspect of that space. It’s analogous to living in a small condo; you can’t clutter it up with furniture — you’ll quickly ruin it. Do you have a favorite roof garden, and why is it your favorite? It’s a landmark building in Chicago that’s a single-family home built over a commercial space. What’s really neat about it is its amenities, which include a green roof, entertainment space, lounge space, a covered veranda, fire elements, a spa, an outdoor shower, and a beautiful view of downtown, bringing all the interior creature comforts outdoors.
Where is this industry headed? What will the roof deck and garden of the future look like?
It’s been in an upward trajectory for the last five years. It did flatten out a little naturally, due to the economy, but over the last two years, more people are willing to invest in their quality of life outdoors. In our climate, people are realizing the months that you have outside are limited and want to take full advantage of nice weather. Also, people are learning to appreciate the amenities that go with outdoor living, such as a bar, an outdoor grilling area, or fire elements. With all that said, I see it growing for the foreseeable future, especially with the advent of all the new outdoor design elements. About Chicago Roof Deck & Garden Chicago Roof Deck & Garden is a full service design/build firm. Our innovative outdoor living designs focus on comfort and functionality, while utilizing complementary materials appropriate to the budget and location. We are the ultimate option and turnkey solution for designing and developing quality and luxurious outdoor living environments. With projects ranging from residential garage roof decks to expansive commercial sun decks, our designs transform any outdoor space. A big thank-you to Tyler Kirages, designer at Chicago Roof Deck & Garden, for arranging this interview! You can follow them on Facebook here! Interview conducted by Brett LezonPublished in