This 450 square-foot studio apartment on the 13th floor with unobstructed north-east city views and even daylight was designed as an urban home-office for a dynamic young head-hunter as a first apartment to house an impressive collection of museum quality modern art purchased almost exclusively through the Larry Becker Galleries, Philadelphia with an equally impressive collection of designer shoes. This project is a tightly designed minimal studio apartment with predominately sustainable materials and energy efficient light fixtures – where less is definitely more.
There were numerous physical restraints posed by the interior alteration of this small studio. These included how best create an open plan while maintaining separation of the programmatic function of entry, kitchen, live/work/sleep space, bathroom and storage closets. How best maximize the low eight foot ceilings of the living area and even lower dropped ceilings at the entry/kitchen/bathroom which house extensive overhead pipes. How best deal with the predominant conduit pipe housing the entire building’s mechanical venting system running diagonally in an off-set position through the centre of the kitchen area. Finally, how best hide the unsightly mechanicals at the window wall including the thru-the-wall HVAC unit, the steam radiator and related piping and valves.
While the solution was multifold, the planning remained straightforward. The apartment exemplifies a balance between modern simplicity and technical dexterity. The subtle floating ceiling plane at the kitchen area with it’s recessed slot fluorescent strips and hovering soft lit cove edges helped create a feeling of greater spatial height. All closet doors were full-height doors. The existing conduit at the kitchen was partitioned in such a way that this floating wall element created an easy solution to separating the kitchen area from the main living area – while maintaining the flow and openness. The singular sleek upholstered sofa-bed on tubular legs with numerous parts that tilt and recline at various angles allow for flexibility in sleeping, viewing the artwork and watching TV.
The white on white vertical planes and subdued colour palette created a simple and clean backdrop to the vibrancy of the art work. The matte white wall paint colour was specified by Art Dealer, Larry Becker – a paint colour and finish as the appropriate backdrop for the art collection. In contract, a glossy highly reflective white lacquer paint finish was applied to the kitchen cabinets.
Strand Bamboo, a sustainable material, was used predominately throughout this apartment. The floating honey coloured striated bamboo flooring planks leveled the existing wavy concrete slab to perfection. The flooring was treated with a natural matt wax finish free of formaldehyde to allow visibility of the grain. The sculptured perimeter wall enclosure clad in bamboo – both houses and hides out of sight the apartment’s mechanical equipment. Tightly spaced bamboo slats, perfectly aligned wrap continuously around the front and top face of the window enclosure to allow the required air flow circulation around the existing mechanical equipment. The fully accessible enclosure also houses drawers and storage space for home office files, as well as an open book shelf. Full height bamboo wall and ceiling panels were installed at the front entry. They were used to cover the unattractive standard building metal fire exit door and door frame. Full height bamboo wall panels were repeated at the living room workstation with cantilevered desk and shelves above.
Further, the energy efficiency studio space meets the ECC NYS 2010 Code requirement where more than 50% of the light fixtures have high efficacy type lamps – seen in the recessed slotted fluorescent strip fixtures, the fluorescent jamb operated closet lights, the minimal bathroom wall strip over the mirror and the LED cove lights. The recessed halogen fixtures with double aiming eye sockets light the art walls in the living area are on dimmer switches. Dimming is used to extend the lamp life of halogen sources while it can be used to both create atmosphere effects and to save energy. While allowing deep interior light penetration, the solar window shade provides protection against light and heat gain from the north-east facing windows.
A transcendent, elemental purity throughout the studio shapes the interplay of light, form, and material within a minimal envelope - this interior renovation project illustrates a new level of refinement in minimalist spatial resolution.
Lilian H. Weinreich Architects has transformed the 36th and 37th floors of an existing post-war, residential tower in the premier upper west side of Manhattan, into a stunning 1,800sf duplex renovation. Designed for a retired couple with a love of classical music and ballet, it provides an urban retreat for their frequent visits to NY. The brief was to completely remodel the existing duplex apartment into a bright, open space drawing on the Japanese aesthetic Wabi-Sabi.
Lilian H. Weinreich Architects worked with the Co-Owner’s wife in her role as Interior Designer to include the founding principles: wabi (transient/stark beauty), sabi (beauty of natural patina, aging), and yūgen (profound grace, subtlety), as a conceptual theme throughout the project.
A subdued neutral palette of rich, subtle hues provides a clean, sophisticated backdrop to the delicate Noh mask carved from a single block of wood using traditional techniques by the client’s daughter, welcoming each visitor to the space. The same mirror backed glass provides a ghostlike aura to the translucent glass cabinet over the dry bar.
The space divides into public/private. The lower level is one large, open utilitarian space for dining/entertainment. Part of the clients brief was to incorporate the mesmerizing views, so Lilian H. Weinreich Architects added sliding, glazed Shoji screens capturing the entire floor width view and bringing a sense of the outside, in. The private bedroom “quarters” on the upper level, feature rhythmic forms flowing around the central core wall forming a contextual relationship with the adjacent Art Deco building and lake beyond, seen from the window view.
One of the main challenges for Lilian H. Weinreich Architects was to create a feeling of openness, with 8 foot low ceiling height restrictions. This was addressed through the clever use of dropped ceiling planes, floated with lit infinity edges, delivering a taller/grander feel. To address sustainability despite poor prior quality and structural limitations, Lilian H. Weinreich Architects was able to completely remodel a contemporary version of the existing building salvaging 30% of the original materials. Hot dipped galvanized steel from 100% recyclable materials was used to refinish and refresh the classic Poulsen light fixtures and the existing steel stair components were reclaimed and cleaned. Wood was locally lumbered and materials and appliances selected for their low impact/low energy credentials. Sound insulation matts made of 100% recycled rubber were installed under the entire flooring throughout. Inside, Lilian H. Weinreich Architects has created a unified space that is both tranquil and energizing, extending the life of a tired, unloved post-war tower in to a beautiful tranquil duplex fit for use in the 21st century.
Co-owner Ellen, said: “The concept of aesthetics in Japan is seen as an integral part of daily life, and, after living there for many years it is still deeply embedded in our thoughts and aspirations. We wanted the apartment to reflect this quiet, yet disciplined sensibility, but on a very personal level. Lilian H. Weinreich Architects took the conceptual framework from our brief and captured it effortlessly, creating a sophisticated but luxurious and welcoming environment.”
“Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art” ― Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
Mobility by design; a space to retire but not to slow down.
“Those with the skill to translate their creative ideas into timeless, elegant pieces of art possess an incredible talent I have always admired,” said lead designer Lilian H. Weinreich, on completion of her latest architectural project to redesign a 170sf master bathroom with walk-in dressing room, in the famed Hampshire House in NYC. “So creating a space for Connie, an artist of considerable note and critical acclaim was, at first, a little daunting.”
Yet the brief offered additional challenges to just pleasing Connie’s strong sense of personal taste. The space not only had to meet Connie’s aesthetic needs but her physical ones too. In her 80’s, the New York- Connecticut based artist needed to incorporate full accessibility into the layout, a requirement sadly compounded two weeks into the design of the project when she fell and broke her hip. “We wanted to avoid any kind of ‘hospital feel’ at all costs.” Said Lilian, who worked hard to combine Connie’s artistic sensibilities and ‘joie de vivre’, into a functional - easy to navigate and to maintain – area, that could also accommodate her art collection. “It was essential that Connie feels soothed and nurtured here; a space to feel safe, but also to enjoy her artistic endeavors.” The reimagined 170sf space successfully integrates a clever mix of custom-designed pieces to support Connie’s mobility requirements, with colors and materials carefully selected to show off her vibrant impressionistic artwork, developed over seven decades.
Painting and creating art using accomplished techniques in gouache and Japanese paper, as accomplished techniques in gouache and Japanese paper, as well as oil works on canvas, Connie has sold scores of paintings to admiring patrons and has had numerous solo and group shows including Como, Italy; Litchfield, Connecticut, and Cape Cod in Massachusetts. As well as the beauty of the natural world Connie is inspired by artists such as Matisse, Van Gogh, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O'Keefe, and the German expressionists. The existing bathroom footprint was gut-renovated and enlarged and all plumbing fixtures including the vanity, shower and water closet relocated. A full-height, easy-glide sliding glazed bathroom door and sliding high tech shower enclosure door eliminate obtrusive door swings. Specialist ADA-compliant grab bars on all walls with matching towel bars provide simple geometric forms, belying their practical nature. Over 85% of the finish material is a blond-striated, strand bamboo - a rapidly renewable and robust material, three times the hardness of traditional red oak flooring. As the prominent feature it lends a light, organic feel, further enhanced using conical caged-marine light fixtures which throw down dramatic light, sharpening the natural patina of the bamboo.
Said Connie, “For me, design is all about the visually powerful. I love bold colors and big themes; motifs that reflect the beauty of the world around us – in particular nature - something I have always been passionate about. So my brief to Lilian H. Weinreich Architects was to use the sustainable natural materials so important to my paintings, and which are kinder to the planet.”
The final result is an ingenious blend of style, sustainability and functionality; perfect for a prolific artist showing no signs of slowing down - a constant source of surprise to Lilian, “Despite her brief set back, Connie remained exuberant throughout the project and we had many a lively debate over the bright red she desired as a paint finish for the remaining wall space. I felt strongly this would detract from the essence of the bamboo cladding and close-in the open and heightened sculptural feel of the space. So I was both delighted and amazed when Connie agreed to work with a master decorative plasterer, in spite of her convalescence. Together Eli and Connie mixed colours in her Litchfield County studio in Connecticut until the right solution was found.”
Red or no red, it’s clear that together, the artistic Connie and headstrong Lilian merged their collective creativity to create a truly clever space as befitting a gracious octogenarian artist.