Create a flexible outdoor dining, gathering, and private event space that provides protection for seasonal temperature changes, wind, and fog. The design was required to be compliant with the City’s tight design regulations pertaining to permitted uses and structures located within a historic district and limits on outdoor dining capacity regulated by ordinance and the water district.


An existing roof deck that had fallen into significant disrepair was situated over one of the restaurant’s two dining rooms, accessible by an exterior stair. This neglected area provided the opportunity for a space that could accommodate up to 45 persons. The design required city ordinance compliance “compatibility with not only the existing retail complex on which it sits prominently but also with the character of nearby historic structures within the designated Carmel downtown historic district. 

Before. Grasings genral view sfom SW
Before: Grasing's rooftop Carmel CA
Grasing's old view from passage


Scale, massing, roof forms, materials, colors, and details were all evaluated by City staff and the governing Historic Resources Board and Planning Commission, in addition to approval by the building official, Fire Marshall and Monterey County Water Management District. Complete enclosure as conditioned space was not permitted.

A2.2 prosed deck improvement plan

Imagining the existing retail complex as a “fragment” of an English village, the design is intended to recall the surrounding vernacular, but more as a more formal, classically proportioned building set amidst an enveloping passage of English-inspired structures.

Its height is limited to no taller than the steeply pitched roofs of the two-story retail office building and the Gable roofs of the restaurant immediately east of the addition.

proposed roof trellis plan
proposed west elevation
proposed north elevation
proposed section view east

                   AN INDOOR/OUTDOOR SPACE
To fulfill the requirement of an outdoor space, the addition was conceived as a large trellised structure atop the dining room below, with a fully retractable fabric roof system that is open during warm sunny days and closed on cool or rainy days. Walls are almost entirely glass, beginning at the floor with translucent panels at the guardrails (requested for privacy from passersby), and frameless sliding glass panels. On warm days, the glass “walls” and roof open to the surrounding building and the street below, offering a pleasant view over a perimeter of planters lined with seasonal flowers and an herb garden harvested for the restaurant’s varied specialty dishes..

Grasing's rooftop deck demo phase

Rare, beautifully grained Redwood timbers were sourced from salvaged and previously cut timber. To keep the structure within a traditional material vocabulary required by the City’s design guidelines, clusters of three columns at each of the four corners were “embedded” into 42-inch high shear walls, thus reducing each column’s vertical cantilever to just 42 inches, avoiding any necessity for structural steel to resist seismic lateral and uplift loads. For added comfort, low-profile electric heaters fastened to overhead beams were placed along with a radiant heat system in the new concrete deck. LED lights on cables illuminate the space for various seating arrangements. 

Grasing's restaurant Carmel CA rooftop deck view North
Grasing's restaurant Carmel CA rooftop deck view

For Kurt Grasing, Chef and Owner of the eponymous restaurant, the indoor/outdoor space has resulted in a near tenfold increase in private events that were previously improvised in the courtyard that limited seating to just nineteen or within one of two dining rooms. Everyday dining has been steady with many guests requesting seating “on the rooftop”. Private events book months in advance. Grasing’s has again earned local awards for fine dining, including “bets location for a special occasion”. The rooftop is now a destination for Grasing’s award-winning dining experience – unique in Carmel-by-the Sea. 

Grasing's restaurant private event space Carmel CA rooftop deck