Bond Street Loft
Bond Street Loft
“There are 100-year-old spaces that have perfect bones, where you don’t want to destroy their essence by tinkering with the building envelope; this apartment was the opposite of that,” says Howell. “It was a ruin that needed straightening out. The floors were three inches out of level, the walls weren’t straight and there was nothing precious or lovely about the small scale of the place.”
Purchased as an urban pied-a-terre for two art collectors who live outside the city, the apartment is inside one of Noho’s notable turn-of-the-century cast iron buildings. It did possess some good features, including 14-foot-high ceilings and huge windows that capture the natural light.
The owners didn’t want, or need, a full-time residence that was a retreat from the city, or space to entertain, which they already have at home.
Instead, Howell conceived a different plan: “A mini-MoMA, a modernist environment where they could go in and switch the art around.”
He began by inserting a pristine, geometrically correct white cube into the space, to straighten and level the walls and floor. The walls at the apartment’s outer boundary are subtly signaled using painted wood planks, a method similar to that used at Dia:Beacon, where the white gallery walls that divide interior space are visibly distinct to the industrial brick megastructure.
This allows the owners to curate and display different works of art, some of it on a fairly large scale, in the main room, even setting up their furniture in relation to it, as in a viewing room. Local designer Lindsay Adelman designed a lighting fixture that doubles as a work of art — the slumped-glass chandelier that hovers just below the soaring ceiling.
“We created a gem of geometry that could also be occupied,” says Howell. “We needed to do that first, because if the lines weren’t clean it would have been distracting.”
The more utilitarian rooms are simple antechambers around this space; the kitchen reduced to a kitchenette-style coffee and drinks bar, the dining room replaced by a diner-style booth, and a bathroom and bedroom similar to that of a hotel.
“None of it is related to a traditional family home,” says Howell. “The owners use the city as their living room, their dining room, so the apartment is a complement to that. It’s a cell of the city, not apart from it. To be here is to remain engaged.”