It’s symphony of curving lines in a large atrium. A symphony with added ‘timbre’ thanks to the imposing views of Manhattan.The city unfolds from almost every space and lies literally at the feet of the unsuspecting visitor.
The penthouse is a design tour de force by Gwathmey Siegel, the famous New York architects, who here have made a truly grand gesture with subtlety.
It’s never an easy task to perform a make-over in New York City and it gets really complicated if it concerns an apartment at the top of a building in the heart of Manhattan. Yet the architectural practice of Gwathmey Siegel has succeeded in converting an existing duplex penthouse into a spacious open ensemble, emphasising the glorious views from all aspects.
The apartment in question is on the 40th floor of a residential building at Central ParkWest. The original unit did not have the double height rooms the apartment now enjoys. Two floors were connected by a narrow opening at one of the corners, housing an equally narrow staircase and a lift. The designers were ruthless: they immediately removed a quarter of the ceiling, fashioning a pattern of undulating lines and straight angles. That open space, reaching to the rafters of the upper floor, formed a good starting point for subsequent plans.
An important requirement of the new occupants was to have room for the electronic piano. It now hangs half over the atrium’s balcony railing.
And, by the way, the brief formed quite a challenge for the designers at Gwathmey Siegel, headed by Kang H. Chang. The new owners, a family of seven, wanted five bedrooms, a library and a study, among other things, fitted into the 5,000 sq. foot (550 m2) space. The dining room, library and living area at the centre had to flow into one another logically. But not just that: they had to be mutually reinforcing.
The designers opted for a couple of strong statements, like the central fireplace, which serves to anchor the whole space. Another striking facet is the gracefully curving, dark-coloured staircase; the colour of its gunmetal railing is reiterated in the balcony fanning round the atrium. Another connecting element is found in the carefully selected materials. They are mostly simple. The floors are in maple wood with a white-washed finish; cabinets are in sycamore and teak, railings and doorframes in gunmetal. In the bathrooms, there is again a uniform pattern, with glass tiles, white marble and sycamore and stainless steel cabinets.
The choice of ample furniture and sofas, and an equally ample fireplace, gives the central zones a majestic character, especially in combination with the high windows which reach visually up to the second floor, while their black surrounds frame the views of large expanses of the city.
text: Izabel Prince