When you take a building that is old and then change it, it can lead to awkward transitions, and we wanted to avoid those while keeping something of the memory of the past, its historical patina, alive. The result is a blending of old and new.
The aspiration was to open up the house to the environment as much as possible. Of course in New York you can’t do this as you would in a rural site, but there are still opportunities. Diminishing the barrier between inside and outside is typical of the work we do. The skylight at the top of the stairs embraces the sky above, in all its personalities, and the pivoting family room window opens to the rear terrace. When both of these kinetic elements are open, the house is naturally ventilated. The movable interior living room wall enables the creation of two more intimate spaces or one very large space.
Subtle material connections are happening everywhere. There is a dojo/ exercise room underneath the rear terrace. It is naturally lit by two skylights: one in the back, and another underneath a terrace fountain, so that light filters through the flowing water. The staircase was re-clad, and tucked-away lighting was installed. The gears, chains, and counterweights that operate the skylight dangle down into it, activating the curved space almost like a chandelier.
The house had fireplaces in nearly every room, many of which had been covered up by remodels over the years. We rediscovered them during demolition and brought some of them back to life with salvaged mantels provided by the owners.
My favorite thing about this project is the sense of balance, across the entire house, between the formal needs and the family needs. It seamlessly moves from family to formal and back again. It’s very meditative and calming. In the city of New York, you need your home to feel like an oasis.
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