This townhouse site in Manhattan presents familiar conditions: A tall, narrow building on an active city street, opening onto rear gardens shared by both single-family and mid-rise housing developments.
Our client’s charge to us was to respectfully free the existing townhouse of the constraints of a compartmentalized Victorian plan that had served to turn the building inward. The now-five-story structure opens upward and outward toward the rear garden, the connecting thread a streamlined but sculpturally plastic walnut stair, screened by a hand-cast light-transmitting amber plane, both of which are supported by an expressive steel and timber framework. A timber curtain wall connects the building interior and rear garden, emphasizing the free plan, floating rooms, and connection of interior spaces to the out-of-doors.
An emphasis on thoughtful handcraft and a soft connection between structure, materials, and spaces, tempers a dialogue between figured walnut, steel, oil rubbed bronze, and their complement in light-reflecting and refracting glass, resin, stone and plaster.
As one leaves or approaches the townhouse, one is aware of both the history of the original building and its relationship to the modern retreat within, now home to an active family of five. New wood casement windows and doors in the restored 19th century brick façade provide a bridge between two eras and worlds.