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.”