The Visionaire (Battery Park City)

Step into the lobby of the Visionaire condo building, take one breath of the rarefied (and preconditioned and super filtered) air in this futuristic eco-living building and, if you’re about my age, the theme song from “The Jetsons” will immediately pop into your head.  “Meet George Jetson,” he lives on the 23rd floor. “His boy, Elroy,” is parking his bike in the building’s bike storage.  “Daughter Judy” is lounging next to the elevated lap pool on the residential amenities level and “Jane, his wife,” is buying organic and locally grown food at the building’s green market.

But this isn’t a cartoon – it’s real and it’s happening in lower Manhattan.  In this luxurious high-rise condo, the first of its kind anywhere to receive the coveted LEED-platinum designation, there are roof gardens and green roofs, irrigated by collected storm water and treated gray water, of course.

I’ve been to two of the Visionaire’s roof installations, and even though I’ve been invited back to see one more, I couldn’t wait to share what I saw.

The “Intensive Green Roof Sky Garden” is an elevated urban paradise on top of the 9th floor with inviting lounging and eating areas, high-end gas barbecues, and direct views to the Statue of Liberty that would have made Emma Lazarus’ heart skip a beat.  The planting is lush, artful and complex, providing greenery and color to this stunning residents-only community garden.  It is called an “Intensive” garden because the soil is deeper and supports more complex plants that require deeper rooting systems, allowing for the park-like setting they have created at this Visionaire roof garden.

The second roof I toured is a green roof, an “Extensive” garden, where the soil is just 3-4 inches deep and designed to support sedum, mostly tiny succulent-type plants that look like ground cover and can grow at elevation, withstand high winds and in many cases, thrive without irrigation, just relying on what Mother Nature provides in rainfall.  This small green roof was built around large skylights that naturally illuminate the also- futuristic underground Battery Park Conservancy headquarters residing in the floors below. Just indoors from this Extensive green roof is a indoor lap lane pool which, because of its rooftop position, has wonderful natural lighting.

There will be more on The Visionaire’s other Extensive green roof after my next visit when I get to go out of doors 30 floors above Battery Park City – I’m looking forward to those knockout views!  But for my next blog entry, we’re leaving Manhattan and going to Queens for a lovely, lower elevation rooftop surprise.

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