Lifescape designs patios with superb views Email
Written by Colorado Green Now   
Tuesday, August 08, 2023 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

Staying nimble was the constant challenge for the Lifescape Colorado team as they navigated this project’s evolving commercial codes for rooftop outdoor living spaces. “The final outcome of this rooftop double-patio project with its outdoor living amenities and beautiful plants is impressive,says Mike Ransom, project manager. “The plants are like the frosting on the cake.” Of course, as with most complex projects, the beauty and functionality mask the behind-the-scenes challenges. As Rachelle Folsom, Lifescape marketing director noted, “The plant design had to address many challenges not related to the beauty of the finished project, yet many of the solutions enhanced the beauty. 

Commitment to communication 

A complex mix of people and organizations were involved in creating the evolving design, submitting permits and researching codes, as well providing input for ideas to modify designs to meet approval and codes. Players included the homeowners, general contractor, Lifescape team – including the landscape architect, Ariel Gelman, who partnered with Lifescape the builder and builder subcontractors, the city and more.  

“The commitment of the diverse team to coordinate communication through multiple means – email, phone, in person – was crucial to project success,” shares Ransom. “Issues were resolved as quickly as possible. I give credit to all the players. People had their tasks and deadlines they made it happen!” He likens the coordination to an ant farm. Everyone knew their role and what to do, and were committed to the same outcome. 

Penthouse neighbors shared a goal 

Owners of both penthouse condos shared the vision of creating “a crown jewel of mountain, stadium and city views from this new condo tower,” according to Folsom. Since owners of both units were Lifescape clients, they and the Lifescape landscape professionals were excited to team up and turn a 600 square foot space into an overall 2,200+ square foot container landscape with seating areas, outdoor cooking areas, firepits and the desired views.  

Almost weekly, new, updated presentation materials kept clients informed of evolving code changes to help them understand both the limitations of some design components, but more importantly, the possibilities and options for overcoming the limitations. Throughout ongoing design tweaks, the clients came to trust the Lifescape team’s expertise and understanding of the complexities they were working through.  

Plant selection and other rooftop challenges 

Plants were container-based and there were weight restrictions and city ordinances. Much of the plant material used in the design was dictated by multiple and evolving codes for rooftop landscapes. Of course, all plants – tree, perennials and annuals – had to be hardy enough to withstand conditions including harsh winds at the top of a 14-story building, as well as provide beauty and vibrancy. The design also needed to address codes and ordinances including solar reflection, night sky requirements, permeable ground, and weight restrictions.  

Getting supplies to the roof required ongoing coordination. Whereas some material could be brought up the service elevator to 14th floor and taken up the stairway to the roof, containers and trees has to be craned to the roof. 

Creating cohesion with two designs 

Though the singular vision of creating “the view was shared by the two homeowners, they had differing goals for their separate spaces. The spaces have a “cohesive aesthetic thread” beyond the mountain and city views. They both have containers filled with plants and blooms, and some hardy trees chosen to create shade. 

A four-foot wall of metal containers with boxwoods creates a natural privacy screen, yet the spaces can be connected, if desired. 

Riding the wave of challenge 

When Ransom, who has been in the industry of a long time, reflects on this project, he says, “I loved it! There were new challenges for all. We need to ride the waves of challenge, not fight them. It’s how we learn the possibilities.” 

Lifescape Colorado received ALCC’s Gold ELITE Award for Residential Plant Design for this project, Rooftop Doubleheader. 

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