What’s New in Residential Design

Residential construction is not what it used to be—and that is actually a good thing
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Sponsored by Bison Innovative Products, Humboldt Sawmill Company, and Loewen Windows and Doors
By Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED-AP

Other Deck Design Options

Green roofs are increasingly popular to expand usable roof space, add gardens, and control rooftop drainage. Designs that include green roofs typically demonstrate an imaginative use of materials that minimize maintenance and the environmental footprint of the building. By incorporating a pedestal system into a green roof, a pedestrian walkway can be provided, which keeps footsteps off the vegetation and allows it to grow properly. It also provides controlled access for maintenance of the green roof or other rooftop items.

The cavity space created by the pedestals between the deck and the roof can be used strategically to allow for electrical wiring, recessed lighting, ductwork, and even irrigation. This means the deck itself or spaces below it can be serviced based on the needs of a project. This can also enhance the ambiance of the outdoor space and improve visibility and safety during nighttime and other dark conditions.

Of course, the deck does not need to cover the entire roof in any of these scenarios. It can be sized to suit the needs of the project such that it avoids other rooftop equipment or features, provides a geometry that is visually interesting, or is just sized to accommodate the programmatic needs of the space.

Site Furnishings

Modular wood cubes are available with an array of design options to incorporate seating, storage, and planters. Such cubes are available with a polyurethane lining and drainage holes to host plant life. At other times of the year, the cubes can be repurposed for seating and storage of seasonal items (i.e., cushions and pillows) by placing a manufactured hardwood top on the cube.

If a different look is desired, aluminum cubes are also an option. Designed to withstand temperature extremes, these low-maintenance, durable planters are constructed of lightweight, partially recycled aluminum. Some use an industrial strength powder-coated finishing process that is applied electrostatically and cured under heat, creating a more resilient finish than conventional paint. There are a variety of size and color choices available.

Overall, from reclaiming unused space in the city to creating a relaxing retreat in the suburbs or a luxurious oasis near water, pedestal rooftop decks can be a solution for a variety of residential designs, allowing for great flexibility and creativity. Further, through use of modular design components, an abundance of different design visions can be created that allow for quick and easy installation without the need for custom or costly materials.


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in April 2021


What’s New in Residential Design
Buyer's Guide
Rooftop Deck Systems
Manufactured in the United States with 20 percent post-industrial recycled materials, Bison Pedestals create level decks over sloped surfaces. They elevate and support wood tiles, pavers, site furnishings, and a variety of other surfaces. Bison Wood Tiles are commercial grade, constructed from sustainably harvested hardwoods, and available in standard and FSC-certified options.
Bison Innovative Products
Redwood Decking
Native to California and widely used across the western United States, redwood decking remains one of the most popular natural wood decking materials available. Humboldt Sawmill Company offers FSC-certified redwood decking in 2-inch x 4-inch, 2-inch x 6-inch, and 2-inch x 8-inch dimensions, and in lengths from 6 feet to 20 feet.
Humboldt Sawmill Company
Timber Curtain Wall System
The Loewen Timber Curtain Wall system offers large glass assemblies with extremely narrow mullions. The structurally engineered timbers create a beautiful and warm interior, while the exterior covers are available in painted or anodized extruded aluminum, solid wood, or cyprium (copper or bronze cladding).
Loewen Windows and Doors