A Rooftop Retreat

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A Rooftop Retreat

This modern mid-century home of owners, Dale Dacquisto and David Crowley sits high on a mountain slope in the central Catalina Foothills of Tucson, Az. There are views below of the city as seen through floor to ceiling living room windows. Mountain views above are seen from this landscaped area and look spectacular at any time of day, and especially at sunset, when the entertaining begins! The goal was to create an indoor and outdoor connection for this landscape creating a strong connection to the mid-century modern architecture and curating a beautiful and usable space that the owners could enjoy.

A special feature of the home was that the stepped elevation of the garage--lower than the home—allowed its roof to be utilized in the makeover. The plan included a rooftop deck and surrounding garden by converting the garage roof, with its parapet walls, into a viewing deck. Two sets of floating concrete steps and deck were designed to create entertaining and gathering areas from which to frame the great views. A patio, created to dovetail nicely with the floating concrete features was designed in interesting curvilinear shapes to soften the effect of the garden and create variety and interest as it conveys people from area to area. 

On the rooftop garden, Abbott used large Corten steel planter boxes as the main perimeter barrier. Steel cable hand railings secured with industrial steel bolts were added by Jake Boen, Architect and Principal of, In Place Architecture. These elements had rust finishes, serving as distinctive accents while providing safety barriers around the perimeter. 

For the plantscape, Abbott filled the raised planters with sun-loving and low-water-use cacti and succulents, and carefully selected species such as Red Barrel Cactus and Thorncrest Agave, that add year-around color and textural interest. A small collection of blooming plants such as Lady Slipper Plant and Chuparosa was used as a colorful compliment, attracting pollinators such as hummingbirds and butterflies. 

The stairway to this rooftop oasis was enhanced using sculptural specimen cacti such as Mexican Fence Post Cactus and Golden Barrel to enhance the impact of the stone planter and open-air sky roof.

Custom night lighting turns this garden into a marvel of texture and color. “Shadows, silhouettes, and special plants are strategically lit up at night, using a variety of fixtures to achieve this goal,” says Abbott. Several art pieces designed by Smitty of Smitty Built Co., were installed with dozens of LED lights in clear glass vases. 

The couple is thrilled with the finished result, reveling in the transformation of an unusable space into a welcoming spot for relaxing and entertaining.

This is now a multi-award-winning project and will also be featured at the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) International Conference Garden Tour, being held in Tucson, AZ, November 2023.

(Excerpts credit of the Tucson Lifestyle Magazine, Feb. 2023 issue)

Photos by Robin Stancliff, Stancliff Photography

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