ABOUT 225 EAST 21ST STREET, 1, GRAMERCY, MANHATTAN, NY 10010
A waterfall, bridge, and moat afford solace in this raw, urban dwelling that is an architect's autobiographical spacial story. Inspired by the rawness and rustication of stonework and brickwork and the contrast between old and new and the layering of history are all important dimensions of the design. Despite the perceived impracticality, the threshold is an important spatial concept for the offerings architect who is drawn to the tension created by the juxtaposition of opposites. Throughout this dwelling, one sees the old counterpoised with the new, the rustic with the smooth, lines with curves, and the organic with the rational. Aged materials and acquired patina, change and accident. Now a three-unit brick house the original building was an old dental factory with carriage house. The house was gutted to its original shell which was then remade into this one of a kind live/work loft that is subdivided into three distinct areas with transitional spaces in between, those being: a bridge, a moat, and a cantilevered second story. The intended design separates the basic functions of working, living, and sleeping with a two-story space, light, and water. A ground plan of the first floor live/workspace presents the studio office space in the front and the living area in the rear. The two rooms are separated by a "drawbridge" walkway that overlooks the library. The living area looks towards a moat and a waterfall that pours from the loft above in a sheet of water (when turned on mostly for parties and print). The moat is sealed with a pool liner and filled with river rocks. To approach the metal stairs that lead to the bedroom loft, one walks across H20 on "stepping stones" made from leftover shoring posts that were in the building when originally purchased. The industrial steel stair, to which Ling added the custom railing, escorts to the bedroom. In a loft filled with surprises, the modest second floor is perhaps the most particular: The mezzanine level is now an open space with bathroom, just sizable enough for a settee couch, chest of drawers and a few small pieces of furniture. Linen curtains hang from an Dignitet stainless steel curtain wire, masking a window ledge that serves as a makeshift storage shelf. The platform bed is cantilevered over the rear moat and shaded skylight; one of sundry unalike and special apertures noticed throughout the loft. A calla lily-shaped wall of galvanized metal forms Lings exposed bathroom shower. A stainless-steel toilet completes the bathroom suite. Corresponding to the water motif, the rear wall was painted in ultramarine blue and black. In contrast to the original whitewash brick timbered beams, both office and living are really metallic colored islands, surround by water. The block cement kitchen island and tatami mat platforms inhabit the living space. The two-story metal cone construction that hangs off the mezzanine extends down to the living area contains a suspended "throne" on the ground floor and open shower on the mezzanine. Likewise, the custom sink is clad in the sheet metal, lined with hand enameled waterproof cement is the same material that was used in the library office. On the floor Ling installed 4-foot by 8-foot mirrored acrylic sheets purchased from an industrial supply store on Canal Street. The living area is a repository of Ling's European modernist furniture collection. Ling installed junction boxes in the ceiling and hung Satco Incandescent Tubular Bulbs on socketed wires. His homemade fixtures hang in the stairwell that leads down to a library. Ling fashioned the desks in his office from salvaged materials. The acid-etched tempered table tops-are slotted into wall shelves made from beams and supported at the end by shoring posts.
This Lab loft is the ultimate eccentric live work space in a late 18th century building near Gramercy Park. As intended, architecturally it says things that have never been said before in a timeless way.
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