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Chelsea Condominiums

New York, New York

Using a single module of the structural grid as a starting point, the design for this project accentuates the infinite permutations of unit types and sizes that are possible within a simple, flexible structural armature. Within this armature, it is possible to combine modules together vertically to accentuate a high space within the flat slab construction; horizontally to accentuate a wide expanse of the exterior window wall; or, to stretch from one façade through to the other, accentuating exposure to both street and rear yard views. The variation and combination of these options not only establishes the diversity of offerings for the building, but also becomes part of the public image of the project by informing the articulation of the facade.

Balconies on the standard urban residential tower tend to be painfully exposed and alienated from the comfort and privacy of the interior living space. The building attempts to reclaim this zone by re-thinking the typical layering of curtain, window, platform, and rail. While the window plane itself constitutes the literal division between interior and exterior, the curtain layer generally reinforces this divide by creating a visual barrier coincident with the glass wall. These layers are pulled apart by inserting a durable woven metal fabric just inside the balcony rail. By providing a visual screen at the outside edge of the balcony, this exterior curtain provides a layer of privacy that allows the balcony to function as an extension of the interior living area. Floor to ceiling sliding windows further accentuate the blurring divide between inside and out. In addition, the metal curtain filters sunlight, protects the building from heat gain, and provides visual interest on the interior by modulating the light that enters the unit.

The ground floor of the building continues the commercial development that occurs in the neighborhood at street level. This zone again accentuates the combination of high, wide, and through spaces. A high space is given over to the residential lobby to enhance the experience of entry into the building. The commercial storefronts, depending on the needs of potential tenants, have the opportunity to occupy multiple modules to widen their critical street frontage. Both residential and commercial zones have views through to the garden space of the rear yard beyond. At the same time, as a nod to the historic context of the site, the multi-level through-lot brownstones that this project replaces would essentially be lifted from the street and re-envisioned as duplex penthouse apartments in the setback volume on the top four floors of the building.

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