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The owners of this high-end residential rental building in the Financial District became interested in designing a communal rooftop space and after a recommendation from their interior design firm BG International, contacted Kokobo and the story begins!
Large, centrally-located electrical rooms and air conditioning units would need to be shielded from view due to their extremely imposing nature in a space walled in with prominent parapet walls. We chose to conceal and beautify the electrical rooms and air conditioning units with 12? high IPE ‘Slot Walls’ which are essentially wall structures that enclose continuous slots of living wall panels in a decorative, geometric pattern and utilize minimal footprint space. The outdoor rooms are further denoted by overhead trellis and pergola structures in IPE wood which warms the look of the parapet wall and provides an airy ceiling to allow sunlight to penetrate the rooms.
The darkness of the entrance has been brightened by adding light box planters with rich green ferns along the entrance walls that illuminate your view as soon as you step foot outside. After 10 years of enjoying his rooftop overlooking the Hudson River a longtime client of ours found it necessary to sacrifice his terrace for 6 months due to the building’s need for Local 11 work.
Our client’s outdoor space was the actual rooftop for the entire north side of the building and this meant tearing apart many of the built-in planters, removing plants, and key elements to make room for the scaffolding and equipment. All of the built-in Cedar planters were removed and brand new, colorful architectural fiberglass freestanding planters took their place.
Fresh plantings were added of different varieties highlighting the colorful containers as they grow vertically and spill over.
Simple and low-slung teak sofas, chair and coffee tables create an intimate sitting area while the existing chaise lounges have more room to breathe and a permanent location on the rooftop.
The clear Cedar pergola from the original design was restored to its original honey color and all hardware was sanded and brought back to original finishes.
Next to the dining area, custom cabinetry with a serving counter and storage below provides a perfect spot for staging food and cocktails while also providing protection from the elements for the client’s stereo controls and other electronics. Existing lighting and irrigation systems were removed and replaced with brand new, state-of-the-art landscape lighting and drip irrigation systems. We look forward to a wonderful spring and thank you for your continued business and support!
On the eve of the Olympics as team USA prepares to win lots of Gold & Silver medals in Sochi… kokobo takes home TWO GOLDS and SILVER at LINLA awards!!!
LINLA, the Long Island Nursery and Landscape Association, is a New York State professional association started in the early 1960’s.
A Massapequa family with a love for traveling, desired renovations to their home influenced by two of their favorite destinations; One of them Thailand and the other Bali. In New York City the newly designed and constructed communal rooftop, has made its way from loud and imposing utility structures to warm and cozy nooks. Thanks for reading our exciting news and stay tuned for our next newsletter which will highlight new projects as spring time gets closer and closer!!!
A petite backyard in Queens was in dire need of a new look, smarter use of limited space, and more structurally-sound construction. The garage became a harrowing task to rectify, as asbestos was discovered in the rooftop materials, and it being a shared structure, cooperation with the neighbors was mandatory. The large arborvitae at the rear of the yard had to be removed, due to their encroaching size and the light that they blocked from the space. While entertaining, the clients can utilize the outdoor kitchen island which was designed to host a grill, refrigerator, storage, and bar seating, as well as provide ample serving space.
Drastic changes to the small backyard have made a world of difference and the space is almost unrecognizable from what it used to be!
The owners of this high-end residential rental building in the Financial District became interested in designing a communal rooftop space and after a recommendation from their interior design firm BG International, contacted kokobo and the story begins! Happy New Year and wishing you the absolute best for a wonderful 2014, from all of us at kokobo greenscapes! One of the most rewarding projects that kokobo greenscapes took on was the installation of a vertical garden, or a greenwall, inside the commissary at 30 Rockefeller Plaza AKA 30 Rock in late 2012. What made this installation even more exciting was the timing of it all, because NBC was running its Presidential Election coverage right after the completion of our project!
So many challenges that we could not have prepared for came up during our work at 30 Rock but the Kokobo team still managed to pull it off, in 3 days!
Greenwalls or vertical gardens are essentially living walls of plants that are grown in vertical fashion.
The most challenging part of the project was the limited time that we had to get the wall installed onsite. The deadline for the project was quickly approaching so we came to the conclusion that we needed to start hanging the brackets for the wall immediately. What had to be done onsite was the hanging of the brackets which all of the greenwall pots would hang onto as well as the irrigation basins.
While this is going on, we had another three-man team working to plant out the over 800 pots of plants that had to be hung on the wall. By midmorning of the second day we had installed all the brackets and we began to install the irrigation basins. Without the supply line it was going to be impossible to test the irrigation system and make sure that it was flowing properly. This portion of the install would prove to be a large challenge as we were up against cold temperatures, an appearance by Rod Stewart at NBC’s TODAY show, and a very, very crowded loading dock with many trades finishing in the area that we were working.
All hands on deck on this day meant a seven-man team, with one driver, and three runners bringing items up from the loading dock, and three people on the wall itself installing plants one at a time. The next phase was to adjust the lighting that would be shining down onto the wall highlighting the design as well as calibrating the irrigation system so that the water flowed for an adequate amount of time to provide all 800 plants with the proper amount of water without any of the basins overflowing. The entire time throughout the installation there were so many comments from all the trades, employees of NBC, and visitors in the space all wanting to know how the system worked, how the plants would grow, how long the process took, who designed it, etc! We wanted to take the opportunity to share a unique project that we are especially proud of. This 10th floor condominium sits in middle of the East River and has tremendous views of both Manhattan and Queens, but is also quite exposed to neighbors and natural elements. To establish the intimate space they required the designer looked to create privacy through planting. To make the terrace a usable extension of the interiors, rooms were created with specific programs and features. In addition to the requirements associated with the pergola, deck, and kitchen appliances the designer also had to consider and plan for window washing operations that take place biannually on the terrace. Located in Atlantic Beach, with sweeping views of the sublime ocean and kaleidoscopic horizon, The Sands Beach Club is a gorgeous place for a sweet summer escape. Jean Galle, one of our designers for this project, worked on completely transforming the two entry gardens at the valet entrance of the Club. On the left of the entrance, we wanted to create a feeling of the dunes that are along the beach, with sea grasses placed in natural clusters and decorative evergreens and boulders.
In addition to these raised plant beds, we placed sleek freestanding planters with large Birds of Paradise plants, and draping flowers throughout the valet area and flanking the entrance doors of the Club.
Inside the building, tropical Dracaena plants were placed throughout the lobby, restaurant, and new lounge areas. I was extremely honored on behalf of kokobo greenscapes to be included in this wonderful program. The chosen finalists are each featured in a full-length magazine article, along with photos of their projects.
Beside client references and photos of finished work, companies can submit photos and information about their facilities and employees, copies of company literature, training manuals or promotional campaigns, or anything else that convey the caliber of ones company to the Total Landscape Care editors.

Once the 12 finalist are picked, an editor visits each company, to see the personal side of the business. All at kokobo are very pleased to be honored by this selection and will continue our hard work to please our present and future clients.
Some of our recent work has been recognized and we have received awards and notable recognition from several established landscape institutions! On a cold winter’s night in January, dressed in our finest, we joined other professional landscape design firms and nursery men for the annual LINLA awards dinner. Upon the first site visit it became clear to the Kokobo design team the improvements this rooftop space required in order to make a warm and friendly area to host the residents and their guests. A unique and colorful steel scaffold-like structure circumnavigates the roof which supports the mobile window washing mechanism. This created a warm and attractive border enclosing the outdoor rooms and serve to stop the eye from taking in the rooftop utilities.
A custom IPE and river rock soffit was designed to hide the prominent flashing along the base of the parapet wall and also conceals the electrical and irrigation supply running around the perimeter of the rooftop. A continuous band of light at the base of the surrounding IPE walls light the ground plane for easy navigation. Local 11 is a law that was passed in 1998 requiring buildings above 6 stories to have regular inspections and repair work to their facades for the safety of pedestrians and owners below. What was initially a major inconvenience turned out to be a welcome opportunity for our client to bring the terrace’s design into a more modern, simplified, and clean aesthetic. Reducing the planted areas on the terrace allowed the incorporation of more furniture and more capability for entertaining, which the client had been longing for.
Keeping the pergola was imperative to the client as it allowed the dining area to be kept in the same spot which offers unobstructed views of the Hudson River to the west and the Empire State Building to the north. Whipping winds, shady spots, and blazing sun are all elements that are experienced on this rooftop and the new drip system allows for each plant to be watered at different rates and frequencies based on their unique needs throughout the space.
After weeks of hard work the changes made to this humble backyard made a world of difference, almost unrecognizable from its previous state! Permits were obtained, the asbestos was taken care of by an environmental firm and the garage was demolished and carted away.
The Japanese maple was kept however, for it was healthy and its curvy truck provided an interesting effect against the fencing.
Stucco risers with blue stone treads create an elegant entry from the garden into the house, along with stucco cheek walls with bluestone cap stones.
One of the interesting facts about this project is that eco-friendly materials were used on many elements…the pavers in the dining area are permeable to reduce surface run-off, the concrete used for foundations and walkways was a special eco-friendly mix, and all of the landscape lighting is low-voltage and LED which will consume very little energy.
Upon the first site visit it became clear to the kokobo design team the improvements this rooftop space required in order to make a warm and friendly area to host the residents and their guests. Because of this unique layout, they have grown in popularity in urban areas, where space is limited. We had been speaking with the client for about two months prior to installation and all along we were assured that there would be ample amount of time from when the space was complete to allow us enough time to install and prepare the space well in advance of the upcoming election night viewing party in the commissary. When we arrived at the job site, the large work area that we had planned to use to stage materials and then ultimately plant all of the individual pots was completely cluttered with materials, equipment, and workmen. We set up our scaffolding and began to block off an area so that we could work safely and expeditiously. We didn’t want to box the plants up for the transport until the last possible moment so it was imperative that we kept all the plants separate to provide good airflow, appropriate temperature and adequate light until they were ready to be shipped to the city. This process would take approximately seven hours with four men as the irrigation basins had to be attached ever so carefully so that they were completely level and that water would flow appropriately through every single basin so that they could be wicked up by the special planters and into the soil for the plants. In response, what we did was run a very long hose from a secondary location from approximately 300 feet away through the halls of NBC and got the water from the Saturday Night Live set!
Once all the pots were in place we were been able to run an irrigation cycle with the brand new supply line that was installed by the plumbers earlier that day and it worked perfectly and water was running through the entire system. Three days later was election night and at this point trades were still working so it was important that we came back through and wipe every single plant to make it looked its absolute best, as well as removing dust and debris from the plants in the soil so that they would be healthy. It really shows the breadth of design elements and options that are available even in a confined space with strict parameters. This was achieved by incorporating custom built-in planters along the perimeter of the space, placing larger plants in key locations and maintaining those east and west views of the cities beyond. As you enter the terrace from the interior living room you step out onto the original concrete pavers issued to all exteriors of new constructions in the area. Access to nearly every point along the perimeter had to be maintained in order for 1 man and a window washing basket with rope and pulley system to have room to work and move along.
To the right of the main entrance, we designed a raised planting bed with a stone wall that doubles as seating. To be considered as a finalist amongst over 2,500 nominated firms throughout the USA was truly wonderful for our company and a testament to our continuous drive to offer our clients the highest quality of service, knowledge, product, and of course unique, awe inspiring designs to enhance their outdoor spaces. They also join Total Landscape Care staff on an all-expense-paid cruise to the Bahamas hosted by Case Construction Equipment where they can network with other landscapers, enjoy nightly gala events and relax on the sandy beaches.
LINLA, the Long Island Nursery and Landscape Association, is a New York State wide professional trade association started in the 1960’s. It was great to see all the amazing designs from other companies and learning about the creativeness behind the designs. The prominent parapet walls and red steel structure act as divisions of outdoor rooms and spaces with varying uses. The imposing air conditioning vent at the entrance is hidden by an IPE ceiling which stops the eye from seeing the vent but also provides enough air flow in and around the openings. Freestanding planters are sprinkled throughout the roof space to provide further softening of surrounding architecture and variety of foliage to be enjoyed. A fully customized low-voltage lighting system provides a dramatic effect on the plants and hardscapes as the sun sets and the outdoor space is used into the night. During the cocktail hour, we were able to view all the competitive portfolios with all the feedback from judges.
While there were some overgrown trees on the property the backyard was very drab and lacking any real greenery. New plantings were adding into every corner and edge of the backyard – a raised bed against the house hosts an array of perennials and ferns, a small bed opposite the kitchen island has vines which will grow along the new fence and soften that narrow pathway, a second bed along that fence and at the rear of the yard provides evergreen interest and privacy from the alley behind, finally tiny little beds at the base of the 4 iron trellis posts contain ivy which will grow up and over the structure throughout the year to offer shade and seasonal interest. Step lights were installed into each so they can be easily navigated at night and add to the ambiance of the space. The dining area is demarcated by a prefabricated iron trellis in which custom lighting has been hung to illuminate the table well into the evening.
From its origination in Europe to its introduction and its recent rise in popularity in America, greenwalls are an art form that continue to impress and delight visitors in anyone’s home, office, restaurants, hotels, and parks.
It’s always very important when installing landscape elements that they are installed LAST after all the other trades are complete so that the plants are not harmed by dust and debris and also to provide our team with the appropriate work space to get things done. Electricians, plumbers, carpenters, laborers, and audiovisual techs were everywhere so we made a decision that it was not going to be the best place to stage and plant everything…this would have to be done back at our facility in Long Island City, an extra step in an already very complicated install.
Because the other trades were not complete yet, we had to move and restage all of our equipment and our scaffolding many times during the install. I was monitoring both teams simultaneously trying to make sure that both were working at the same pace so that when the brackets in city were ready we didn’t waste any time by getting the plants installed! About 60% of the way through the irrigation basins we began to connect all of the basins with the irrigation tubing and couplers.

Once we knew that the system was flowing properly we had to watch it drain and make sure that there were no leaks and that there were no spots where anything was clogged. Above all, the greatest satisfaction I received was watching the election night coverage and looking up just to the left of Brian Williams, inside the windows of 30 Rock, and seeing the greenwall!
While east and west viewpoints offer incredible cityscapes, the clients required some privacy from the northern neighbors as well as those above them.
To your left is a small sitting area where a morning coffee and reading of the paper might be enjoyed. Within the bed are exotic Alexander palms, tropical plants, and many types of lush, flowering perennials that offer guests a breezy and tropical environment as they arrive for their day at the beach. I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful group of finalists on the cruise to the Bahamas last November and forged some wonderful friendships while learning a lot about the other finalist’s businesses and projects. He made it a point to visit with each of the designers as well as Michael and other key staff! It was designed as an extension of the interior living space with bird’s eye panoramic views of Manhattan, making it ideal for hosting parties! During the cocktail hour, we were able to view all the competitive portfolios, sans names of company or client of the various projects presented so that all feedback from judges could be viewed. It’s thrilling to see our work presented alongside such creative and talented designers. Finally, the entrance to the rooftop would need to be brightened and an imposing air conditioning vent structure overhead hidden from view. The first space you come upon from the entrance is a living room with multiple sofas and comfy lounge chairs surrounding a custom coffee table with built in lighting for nighttime ambiance. Stepping onto the communal rooftop has changed from loud and imposing utility structures, parapet walls, and steel structures to what is now warm and cozy nooks for tenants to enjoy a variety of sitting areas and amenities for any occasion, whether it’s sunning on a hot summer day or having drinks with friends after work, the space and features are amply provided. As dinner was served, a wonderful slideshow and commentary was provided highlighting all of the winner’s projects with amazing before and after pictures as well as detailed construction pictures showing all of the challenges and intricate steps required to complete the incredible projects. The stoop to the raised porch was lopsided and the canopy covering the porch was in desperate need of updating.
The stoop canopy was replaced with a natural cedar railing and overhead structure covered by an opaque corrugated fiberglass roof that allows light to penetrate the previously dark sitting area on the landing. Stepping onto the communal rooftop has changed from loud and imposing utility structures, parapet walls, and steel structures to what is now warm and cozy nooks for tenants to enjoy a variety of sitting areas and amenities for any occasion, whether it’s sunning on a hot summer day or having drinks with friends after work, the space and features are amply provided. As the opening date for the commissary was getting closer, we spoke to the client almost daily and they would indicate that the other trades were not finished yet and that it wasn’t quite time. The first step was to start hanging all the metal brackets and this was handled by a three-man team during the middle of the day, as our plan was to work through the late afternoon into the evening as this would allow us more space as trades finish working around 4 o’clock. It was important to have the entire system connected and tested prior to the installation of any of the plants.
This took approximately three hours and at the end of this stage we knew that the next day we were able to finally install all of the plants.
The clients enjoy hosting family and friends, and purchased the unit with a terrace in one of Roosevelt Island’s new constructions with the purpose of creating a beautiful, usable, and intimate outdoor space that would enhance their interiors and add great value to their home. Incorporating significant planting areas and therefore saturated soil the building required investigation of the weight loads that would go into these areas. Moving forward into the space you step up onto an IPE deck which houses the kitchen and dining areas for the outdoors. Unfortunately this decreased the usable footprint of the space for the homeowners, but ultimately was minimal in what it took away from the overall design goals.
After lunch, he and Michael were off to more site visits in NYC – both in progress and finished projects. Next to the living room is the sunning room filled with chaise lounges for individuals wishing to soak in the rays on those wonderfully sunny NYC days. The clients were interested in outdoor cooking and entertaining for small groups, using the space at night, and greening and softening the edges of the yard to provide an attractive border and privacy from the alleyway behind and the neighbors. But how would we be able to complete the 5 day install if there were other trades on site and if there wasn’t even 5 days available?
Unfortunately, one of the trades that had not completed their work in time was the plumbing contractors who were to be installing a water supply line to the bottom of the greenwall. Spreading the planted areas around the perimeter of the space really evened out those heavier loads however and there were no points of extreme weight that would have caused an issue. In the corner of the communal roof top is the second living room with similar outfitting to the first, but on a much larger scale. What we found was, as we were getting closer to the end of the project, the space that we had to work was so limited that we were getting slower and slower as we got closer and closer to finishing! One area was left free of the custom planter however in order to allow for sunbathing and reaching the parapet wall to offer maximum views of the surrounding vistas. The kitchen is veneered in a natural, stacked-stone and the counter is a custom poured and tinted concrete. Various rooms were implemented allowing for an extension of the indoors and maximum use of the space.
The room was buzzing with creative thoughts and note-taking for inspiration on future projects.
The fourth space as you turn the corner of the rooftop is the dining area, set with multiple table and chair configurations for rooftop dining of any size or occasion. Another element of privacy was incorporated through the use of the pergola over the dining area. The counter extends over the northern side of the kitchen to create a bar with ample space for seating and entertaining while grilling is taking place.
Views of Manhattan and Queens were maintained to the east and west providing a unique and awesome experience of the city surrounding this Roosevelt Island Oasis. Creating a ceiling over the diners that would conceal them from the onlookers in the units above the terrace.
The large island includes 2 grills, 2 refrigerators, an ice maker, and ample storage space for multiple families or groups to serve and enjoy. Incorporating a built structure of this height caused concern for the building and an engineer and special permit was required in order to attach the structure to the building itself. To your right is an open, sun-filled space for sunbathing and experiencing the surrounding views. This requirement proved an enormous logistical challenge, but ultimately was well worth the efforts and cost.
To the left is the living area of the terrace with cushy, sectional seating and a custom built-in bench with shading pergola overhead. The aluminum posts that are visible above the IPE deck have custom feet that sit on the roof membrane and are attached to the concrete roof slab with stainless steel wedge bolts in order to secure the structure against high winds.
In time the posts and beams of the bench pergola will be covered in Trumpet Vines offering shade and additional privacy during the warmer seasons.
The addition of the metal material to the roof top provides variations and enriches the overall look of the space.

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