Launch Slideshow

Roof Decks

Roof Decks

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    John Blood

    This three-story house has decks at every level, including a third-floor roof deck that overlooks the pool—and much of the world beyond.

    2005 CHDA
    Austin, Texas, Residence
    Merit Award/Custom Home Less Than 3,000 Square Feet
    Danze + Blood Architects, Austin, Texas
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    A Glass railing lets the Pacific view through to this rooftop room. The fireplace at right lends warmth and a focal point when the sun goes down.

    Custom Home, June 2009
    Virtuous Venues
    Zeidler Residence, Aptos, Calif.
    Ehrlich Architects, Culver City, Calif.
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    With views of the Milwaukee skyline, this rooftop terrace is a dramatic setting for gatherings large and small.

    2007 CHDA
    Parts House Pavilion, Milwaukee
    Grand Award/Outdoor Spaces
    Johnsen Schmaling Architects, Milwaukee
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    The real drama, though, is in the image the terrace sends out to the city. When the lights go on, colored plastic panels hung from a steel trellis create a colorful beacon.

    2007 CHDA Parts House Pavilion, Milwaukee
    Grand Award/Outdoor Spaces
    Johnsen Schmaling Architects, Milwaukee
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    A narrow pool fills this roof deck, offering views of Vancouver’s English Bay and North Shore Mountains. With a floor largely made up of glass, it also serves as a skylight for the living spaces below.

    Custom Home, Summer 2007
    High Water
    Private Residence, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    Patkau Architects, Vancouver
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    Dana Wheelock

    The loft’s rooftop sunroom opens onto a private deck via a glazed overhead door.

    residential architect, November/December 2011
    New Heights
    Loft Residence, Minneapolis
    Albertsson Hansen Architecture, Minneapolis
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    Dana Wheelock

    The sunroom and roof deck enjoy views of the nearby Mississippi River.

    residential architect, November/December 2011
    New Heights
    Loft Residence, Minneapolis
    Albertsson Hansen Architecture, Minneapolis
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    Steve King

    A wall of sliding doors opens this master bedroom to an expansive concrete roof deck.

    2012 CHDA
    Desert Panorama House, La Quinta, Calif.
    Merit Award/Custom Home More Than 5,000 Square Feet
    XTEN Architecture, Culver City, Calif.
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    Steve King

    The master bathroom also opens fully to the deck.

    2012 CHDA
    Desert Panorama House, La Quinta, Calif.
    Merit Award/Custom Home More Than 5,000 Square Feet
    XTEN Architecture, Culver City, Calif.
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    Adrian Wilson

    This rooftop apartment includes a large, private outdoor space in the heart of Manhattan. Steel I-beams support the building’s historic parapet wall.

    2012 CHDA
    Private Glasshouse, New York
    Grand Award/Custom Home 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet
    Spector Group, New York
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    Adrian Wilson

    The dining area’s view over the deck to the city.

    2012 CHDA
    Private Glasshouse, New York
    Grand Award/Custom Home 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet
    Spector Group, New York
  • Stepping up the hill so one is perched over the other, each room offers a different point of view.

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    Stepping up the hill so one is perched over the other, each room offers a different point of view.

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    Joe Fletcher

    A steep hillside site permits on-grade access to the green roofs of these two cabins.

    2012 CHDA
    Mill Valley Cabins, Mill Valley, Calif.
    Merit Award/Outdoor Spaces
    Feldman Architecture, San Francisco
  • The detached cabins invite the owners to engage with the landscape.

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    The detached cabins invite the owners to engage with the landscape.

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    Joe Fletcher

    One cabin houses an art studio, the other a yoga studio. The green roof decks above provide a canvas for the art of gardening.

    2012 CHDA
    Mill Valley Cabins, Mill Valley, Calif.
    Merit Award/Outdoor Spaces
    Feldman Architecture, San Francisco
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    Richard Barnes

    Atop a concrete warehouse converted to a residence, this grasshopperlike penthouse bedroom opens onto a roof deck with 360-degree views over downtown San Francisco.

    2008 rada
    Tehama Grasshopper, San Francisco
    Grand Award/Renovation
    Fougeron Architecture, San Francisco
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    Richard Barnes

    An oversize light well opens the core of the building to the deck above, and the sky.

    2008 rada
    Tehama Grasshopper, San Francisco
    Grand Award/Renovation
    Fougeron Architecture, San Francisco
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    Richard Barnes

    The core of this modern San Francisco row house is a multilevel courtyard/roof deck.

    2007 CHDA
    San Francisco Residence
    Merit Award/Custom Home 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet
    Fougeron Architecture, San Francisco
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    Steven Simpson

    First-floor living spaces spill out onto a glass deck that roofs the owner’s basement- level architecture studio.

    2005 CHDA
    San Diego Residence
    Grand Award/Custom Home More Than 5,000 Square Feet
    Jonathan Segal, San Diego
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    William Kildow

    Sited on a miniscule lot in Chicago's notorious Cabrini Green neighborhood, this urban pioneer packs 1,152 square feet of living space onto less than 1,700 square feet of land. Its forms are bracingly simple: four stories of steel-framed structure, a concrete block stair tower for circulation, and a steel circular stair for secondary egress.

    2003 CHDA
    Chicago Residence
    Merit Award/Custom Home Under 3,000 Square Feet
    Frederick Phillips and Associates Architects, Chicago
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    William Kildow

    Enclosed living spaces occupy the two middle levels of the main structure, which shelters a ground-level parking pad; the top level is devoted to a shaded roof deck.

    2003 CHDA
    Chicago Residence
    Merit Award/Custom Home Under 3,000 Square Feet
    Frederick Phillips and Associates Architects, Chicago
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    Timothy Hursley

    At the ninth floor of a downtown apartment building, a row of townhouse-style units faces an open terrace and pool deck.

    2011 rada
    930 Poydras Residential Tower, New Orleans
    Merit Award/Multifamily
    Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, New Orleans
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    John J. Macaulay

    “Removing” a chunk of this new lakefront house’s rectilinear volume opened an outdoor room at the second floor.

    2011 rada
    OS House, Racine, Wis.
    Merit Award/Custom Home 3,000 Square Feet or Less
    Johnsen Schmaling Architects, Milwaukee
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    Art Gray

    This vertically oriented structure is a bedroom annex for an adjacent 1930s cabin. Half of the second floor and virtually all of the third are devoted to sheltered outdoor rooms.

    2009 rada
    Tower House, Leander, Texas
    Merit Award/Outbuilding
    Andersson•Wise Architects, Austin, Texas
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    Art Gray

    Expansive lake views await those who journey to the top of the tower.

    2009 rada
    Tower House, Leander, Texas
    Merit Award/Outbuilding
    Andersson•Wise Architects, Austin, Texas
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    Rien van Rijthoven

    Built on a budget, architect Craig Steely’s own house devotes a substantial chunk of square footage to a penthouse-level deck.

    residential architect, June 2008
    Second Take
    Beaver Street Reprise, San Francisco
    Steely Architecture, San Francisco
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    Rien van Rijthoven

    Partially roofed and sporting a suspended fireplace, the roof deck can handle a range of weather conditions.

    residential architect, June 2008
    Second Take
    Beaver Street Reprise, San Francisco
    Steely Architecture, San Francisco
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    Sharon Risedorph

    At the top floor of another in-town San Francisco residence, this master bedroom opens onto a roof deck with knockout views of the city

    residential architect, September/October 2009
    Internal Logic
    Mullen Street House, San Francisco
    Steely Architecture, San Francisco
As human beings, we seem naturally drawn to the tops of things. Have you ever heard a friend boast of visiting the ground floor of the Empire State Building? It’s surprising, then, how few houses offer access to the prime real estate up overhead, because sitting on a roof can feel like sitting on top of the world. And considering how little it takes to make a roof habitable, a deck up top may deliver the biggest bang for the buck in residential construction. After assembling this collection, we’re inclined to view any roof one can’t furnish with a table and chairs as an opportunity missed.