4000sf private Upper East Side residence.
Living in New York is an exercise in negotiating constraints and this project is no different. The project is for a couple who owned a Pied de Terre in the building for many years and when the apartment next door came on the market they decided to expand the weekend place into their primary residence. They have a massive collection of art and objects ranging from photographs to art objects to sentimental ephemera and the mandate for the project was that they could inhabit their collection that was built over their lives together. The apartment is 4,000 square feet and accommodates a master suite, a guest suite for extended family, a state of the art media room, ample public space for entertaining and perhaps most importantly, an architecture for displaying the collection. We considered the whole apartment to be a gallery.
The client's art objects were meticulously documented and arranged into an object mosaic throughout the apartment. The thing about a mosaic is that the first piece you place determines the possibilities for the next. This creates a condition of seemingly infinite variations, yet the logic of how the objects are packed and their sequence systematizes the possible outcomes. The placement of each object reduces the number of options for the next. We thought this was prime territory to explore the application of technology to an architectural problem. We developed an algorithm that could pack the objects based on criteria of our input. Size, color, type, date made etc. allowed us to manipulate and choreograph the outcomes systemically.
Like many other mad-men era NYC developer buildings, the ceiling height in this apartment was only 9’ and one of the clients is over 6’ tall. To compound the issue, there were many building systems aberrations caused by the fact that the floor these apartments are on was meant to be the top floor of the building, but during construction the developer decided to add a few more. The apartment is littered with structural and building mechanical systems offsets that created a real ceiling height problem. We had to go through some gymnastics to meet the code minimum, but we had more work to do in order make the space comfortable for our tall client.
We needed to accommodate the infrastructural space for lighting and the sound system and client didn’t want to give up a single inch of ceiling height. Ceilings can be taken for granted in that they simply disguise building systems, but for us, this was an opportunity to turn our ceiling height woes into a design opportunity. Faceted geometry negotiates back boxes for lighting and A/V while holding as tight to the slab as possible and maximizing the amount of ceiling height.