There Park Avenue in New Yorkk, from 57th to 96th streets East, is as much an address as a literary and cultural allusion. This Manhattan boulevard, a little over 3 miles long and with a neat midway zone, is lined with elegant beige apartment buildings to earthy bricks, with doormen in cladding and Renaissance and neo-Gothic exterior decorations. Designed largely between the gilded age and the Great Depression, by architects such as Emery Roth And Rosary light, this stretch is devoid of the quaint townhouses and upscale shops found in nearby Madison or Lexington. Author Gay Talese he described it in the seventies as “Parc Avenue of poodles and polished brass; it is the land of taxis, the tip of the town, Glassville, the paradise of window cleaning”. If you stroll around this neutral brick place one early summer afternoon, an atypical building will catch your eye: In one corner stands a white, four-story stucco-on-brick structure, a cheerful cube built in the 1990s that cuts through this stationary neighborhood like a liquor. With almost 40 windows (with steel frame) on its robust facade, it seems to be fortezzto be ready.
This building of almost 650 square meters it has seen many incarnations and owners since it was built in 1880. It was built as a building complex to house Victorian apartments, then rebuilt in 1908 to incorporate three storefront storefronts. In the early 2000s, it was reborn, in a somewhat relaxed way, as a single-family home. But it’s the latest reinvention, made by Ashe Leandro with the Venezuelan architect Reinaldo Leandro and the American designer Ariel Ashe, to demonstrate how a modest building can rise along the historic avenue that simultaneously alludes to the past and celebrates modernity. “We didn’t want to emulate anything,” Leandro says. “We had very few restrictions and it was really liberating.”
The owners, Adam Miller, a media manager, and his wife Jennifer, who is in charge of public relations, were looking for designers willing to start without preconceived ideas. With two teenage children, the couple had previously lived in the center of a loft and were eager to bring their minimalist sensibility to this residential area. Several studies wanted to recreate other sober townhouses that they had remodeled nearby or “had no idea what to do,” says Adam, “their solution was to ask us if we had any good ideas.” Only Leandro and Ashe, in their forties known for working with young and curious customers, seemed to be on their wavelength. “If we had any inspiration, it was John Pawson,” Leandro says, referring to the famous British ultra-minimalist. “We wanted to evoke that purity”.
The couple suggested one complete reorientation of the house. The original doors have been removed (in their place there are now windows, symmetrical in relation to the existing ones), creating a raised entrance from the avenue, which is accessible via a series of large concrete stairs. The change made the property wider than it was deep, making it look like a large mansion on a quiet side street than a narrow townhouse on Park Avenue. At the entrance there is now a round staircase that forms the core of the home, with oak steps and a single matte black iron railing. The palette is a mix of dark gray and ebony with warm wood and white walls. “The most important thing when you want to minimize everything is the textures,” Ashe says. The designers also found an innovative solution for the ground floor, which was previously very visible from the street through the windows. For a long time there was a kitchen with the curtains continuously lowered. Leandro and Ashe moved it to a new location and were inspired by Chelsea’s home of art dealer Matthew Marks to remove a level of space and create a double-height lounge in the basement, not visible from the street. Now, during the day, the sun floods the room through the windows near the ceiling, while at night, with a plum-colored corner sofa, the room is lit by a pendant lamp from Isamu Noguchi 6 meters high.
The rooms on the upper floors are characterized by a careful selection of furniture. IN dinning room, a travertine table is surrounded by bespoke wooden chairs by Rob Pluhowski. It meandered green sofa in the living room it overlooks an original stone fireplace that has been moved here to another part of the house. The whimsy of Leandro and Ashe’s approach is perhaps best seen on the top floor, where a glazed living room is flanked by terraces. In this newly renovated room, light enters through the curved windows of the conservatory, and Adam prepares his morning coffee on a black counter. After dark, the couple’s children and their friends take over this majestic oasis with the lights of Park Avenue beneath them.
Made by William Li and styled by Howard Christian
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