Green in the City: Rooftop Gardens


The demand for rooftop gardens is growing, and these lovely cultivated patches in the sky are becoming more common. Any roof can become a rooftop garden, as long as the structure can support the weight. Rooftop gardens give city dwellers the opportunity to take in nature, improve air quality and reduce CO2 emissions, provide roof insulation, delay storm water runoff and increase natural habitat spaces for birds.

230 Fifth Avenue




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In New York City, atop the former Victoria Hotel, sits a 22,000 square foot rooftop garden that is part of a bar and penthouse lounge. The owner, Steven Greenberg, has filled the lounge area with pieces of his own furniture, which create a 1940s modernist mood. The garden is full of palm trees and fountains and offers a stunning view of the Empire State Building, especially at night.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art



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The rooftop garden at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is described by architect Mark Jensen as “a gallery without a ceiling.” The rooftop garden is open to guests of the museum year-round and features sculptural works from the museum’s collection and dramatic views of the San Francisco skyline.

Ghibli Museum




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Ghibli Museum is a sprawling and maze-like commercial museum located in Inokashira Park in Mitaka, a western suburb of Tokyo, Japan. The museum features several levels of rooftop gardens for guests to explore. One one level of the gardens, a giant robot soldier sculpture is the main attraction.

St. Luke’s International Hospital


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The rooftop garden at St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo is an example of perfection in garden planning, execution and maintenance. While some gardens are allowed to sprawl and little is done to contain their exuberance, this rooftop garden takes the opposite approach. It is nature harnessed and mastered, without so much as a leaf out of place.

Kensington Rooftop Gardens






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London’s secret treasure, Kensington Gardens, is a protected historic preservation site. These rooftop gardens were created on top of what was a department store in 1932 to give shoppers a scenic resting spot. There are three gardens at Kensington: the Spanish Garden, Tudor Garden and classic English style Woodland Garden. Today guests of the Babylon restaurant enjoy the gardens and invite-only guests come for the nightlife on the rooftop.

Chicago City Hall Roof Garden





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The rooftop gardens at Chicago City Hall are open to the public by appointment. The gardens were built as part of an EPA study and initiative to combat the urban heat island effect and to improve urban air quality. Construction began in April 2000 and the 38,000 square foot rooftop garden space was completed at the end of 2001. This city block sized rooftop garden cost $2.5 million to build and was funded by a settlement with ComEd.

Cambridge Center Rooftop Garden



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The Cambridge Center rooftop garden has been described as an oasis in the middle of the city. Guests can relax and enjoy lunch in the garden, walk along garden paths or sit in the grass in this park located six stories above the ground.