Handed a former commercial floor just south of Empire State Building we walked into a chopped up environment with rotted floors and open bathrooms. The space had not been touched since an initial conversion from light commercial manufacturing to residential – quasi squatter paradise. While the building was intact, we found ninety percent of the unit substructure rotten, the pipes damaged, all the walls a wreck and a toilet hanging out in the middle of open space. Dismantling and re-imagining the space within the confines of the building structure gave us a great rubric to test design ideas against.
Empire State Apartment: Building In NYC
We sought to open up new possibilities within a classic New York City apartment typology by creating new open volumes of connected space with long site lines. At the core of the project is a central axis linking the private spaces in the back to a windowed view of the Empire State Building in the front while blurring the division between “Hall” and “Room.” Instead of walls we utilized changes in ceiling heights to divide and define notions of space.
- To fully open up and connect the front three quarters of the plan we needed an anchor element around which the life and experience of the space could rotate.
- In moving the kitchen to the throat (the narrowest point of the plan) we found our anchor, but also created a (potentially positive) tension with the entry. We bisected this space into kitchen and entry – creating two rooms out of one – with a sixty-two piece, nine foot tall screen wall of vertical ash.
- By laminating the interior wood body and veneering the faces we achieved sufficient stiffness to create both screen and bench in one form. A plank of structural glass spans the length of the bench uniting the entire structure into a single piece.