Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Downtown Manhattan Loft : By Shelton, Mindel & Associates

New York City, NY, United States
Shelton, Mindel & Associates
Post By:Kitticoon Poopong
Photo © Courtesy of Michael Moran--Etchings by Helen Frankenthaler (left) and Robert Mangold in the TV room, where an Atollo sofa by Paola Lenti upholstered in Bergamo fabric joins a pair of Alvar Aalto chairs.
Located in a modernist Richard Meier tower in the Far West Village in New York City, this bright and spacious loft was recently completely renovated by New York City-based architectural firm Shelton, Mindel & Associates Architecture.
Photo © Courtesy of Michael Moran--For a New York City apartment, architect Lee F. Mindel of Shelton, Mindel & Assoc. chose stools, wicker lounge chairs, and cocktail tables by Poul Kjœrholm, all arrayed on a custom-made V’Soske carpet. The square ottomans, covered in Loro Piana linen, were custom made by Jonas.
A San Francisco family with a traditional 1920s house in Presidio Heights wanted something zippier for their New York pied-à-terre. Something more contemporary and bohemian; an apartment that was open, with lots of glass and a slightly edgy feel. When they saw a full-floor space in a modernist Richard Meier tower in the Far West Village, the family—a husband and wife involved in real estate and philanthropy, with five adolescent children—knew at once that this was it. They also realized that the place, a bachelor pad with zebra-wood floors and prominent metal ductwork, would require a complete and sensitive renovation.
Photo © Courtesy of Michael Moran--A view of Hudson River Park and New Jersey beyond; the kitchen counter is outfitted with Cubo stools by Lapalma from Unica Home. The dining table, right, is by Martin Szekely for Galerie Kreo.
As much as I loved the Meier space, I felt it was difficult for interiors, because it was so strong,” says the wife. “Any ornamentation would look ridiculous, but I didn’t want it to be coldly and starkly minimal. We wanted the apartment to be warm and elegant, with a strength of line and object that could meet the Meier strength.” To achieve that vision, they chose Shelton, Mindel & Associates.
Photo © Courtesy of Michael Moran
As soon as he took the assignment, architect Lee F. Mindel recognized that his first priority must be to respect the integrity of Meier’s glass curtain wall. Nothing he added should abut it or block the extraordinary vistas it opened. The apartment lies at an ideal level above the Hudson River—the water, wood piers, and a flowing ribbon of highway seem to come right into the living room. “You see pedestrian traffic, vehicular traffic, and boat traffic,” Mindel says. “The city and the river become an animated ballet.”
Photo © Courtesy of Michael Moran
Retaining the rawness of the apartment’s big concrete pillars, Mindel softened its industrial tone by adding a plaster ceiling that he perforated with strips of recessed lighting, inspired by the checkered stripes of Piet Mondrian’s traffic-giddy painting Broadway Boogie Woogie. (For parties, LED lighting can be programmed to pulsate in different colors.) To define the living room, the architect designed a quietly patterned gray carpet with invisible seams to encircle the cylindrical columns. “It looks like the columns sit on the carpet, so we could move the living room further back because the columns aren’t in the way,” he says.
Photo © Courtesy of Michael Moran--Mindel created a floating wall that silhouettes a 1954 lamp by Max Ingrand for FontanaArte; the Mindel-designed headboard is covered in a Holly Hunt Great Plains fabric (also used for the bed skirt), and the bed linens are by Pratesi. The chairs are by Aalto (foreground) and Kerstin Hörlin-Holmquist.
The room’s soft palette of grays defers to the omnipresent river, as do the low furnishings, such as the armless Atollo sofa by Paola Lenti. “You almost feel like it isn’t furniture, it’s shrubbery,” Mindel jokes. More subtly, the architect’s interior design fools the eye into thinking that the trapezoidal space is in fact rectangular by slightly shifting the centerlines of the living room seating areas. (The irregular shape of the building was the result of the intersection of the river, which is on a diagonal, with the urban grid.) In the most awkward corner, where a small terrace cuts into the floor space, he created a circular rug that appears to overlap the main carpet and was sewn into place on-site. “A circle is a way to deal with very odd relationships,” says Mindel. “It’s a trick they used a lot in the Baroque.”
Photo © Courtesy of Michael Moran--In the master bedroom, two circa-1925 Pierre Chareau sconces are stacked vertically beside #12, a photograph by James Welling.
The family stays in the apartment during short trips of two to three days; the couple attend business and board meetings, then join the children for shopping forays and theater outings. “One of the first nights we were here, we all went out onto the green turf field of Hudson River Park with a soccer ball,” the wife says. “We can entertain, and we can have our kids doing homework at the kitchen counter. It’s so flexible.” In the open dining area, a laminated-walnut table by Martin Szekely can be combined with two smaller counterparts to reach banquet proportions—as it did for a recent Thanksgiving dinner. On more intimate occasions, a small Ettore Sottsass table in the living room seats four.
Photo © Courtesy of Michael Moran

With an entrance foyer, a long, well-lit gallery ideal for hanging art from the couple’s collection, a library that also functions as a television room, and two smaller bedrooms tucked away from the master, the residence conjures many of the features of a classic Park Avenue apartment. “It alludes to a formal way of living in a completely informal way,” Mindel says. Surprisingly, it also gives its owners an even more intimate awareness of the outdoors than they enjoy back in California. “You have a real sense that you are on an island,” the wife says. “Each season, there’s a different palette. In winter, there are sometimes chunks of ice floating in the river. It’s very serene, and yet it’s a very powerful interaction with nature.”
Photo © Courtesy of Michael Moran
Photo © Courtesy of Michael Moran--Vintage Arne Jacobsen Grand Prix chairs surround a 1963 Lotorosso table by Ettore Sottsass. Enhancing the vista are Ruth Asawa’s delicate wire constructions from the ’60s and a 1912 music stand by Otto Prutscher for Thonet.
The people
Interior Designer: Shelton, Mindel & Associates
Location: New York City, NY, United States
Client: Private
Photographs: Michael Moran
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