In the SoHo Cast Iron District, an existing five story loft building designed by Griffith Thomas built in 1860 has been converted into a mixed use building with sixteen apartments and two additional levels of penthouse structures. The renovation included the complete restoration of the building facades and the design of new storefronts on Broadway and Mercer Street.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission mandated the exact reconstruction of the historic Broadway storefront, allowing for a modern storefront infill on Mercer Street, whose design is at once independent and contextual, and the transformation of the roof into a contemporary new fabricated “‘roofscape”.
The restoration project is part of the “preservation project cases” used at the Planning and Preservation School at Columbia University and at the Technische Universitat Dortmund Lehrstuhl Baukonstruktion.
The apartment layout for the massive block-through building, which was to be served by a single core, challenged our ability to create a horizontal circulation path, both in the public spaces and in the apartments, that was both functional and aesthetic . The other issue that was critical was the need to inject light and air into each unit.
On each floor there are four apartments and each has its own private, dramatic interior atrium, which gently taper outward as the modern curtain-wall lining rises to fold into the penthouses. The atriums, are lined with a sloped curtain wall glazing system, with custom fritted glass and semi-reflective Trespa panels.
Similarly to a courtyard house, across the atrium, you can only see the other wing of your own unit; also, as in the light-wells in Barcelona, the atriums are the center of the apartment , one of the most desirable features providing unexpected views. The structures, which penetrate the roof four times t, together with the penthouse structures transform the recreation space into a contemporary fabricated urban landscape. The carefully planned mechanical elements are wrapped in a reflective metal screen, whose volume phase becomes the backdrop for the entertainment deck space.
The design of the 100’ long lobby, as to prepare the visitor, echoes the atriums, both in the ceiling design and the materials used.
The design draws from the contradictions between the elements, allowing the old to be known, the instruments being deduction as well as addition. The renovation of this building completes “ the making of the street”, from an utilitarian and gritty Mercer Street to one of the most recognizable streets in SoHo; TRA contributed to the streetscape transformation with 72 Mercer, 52 Mercer, 22 Mercer, 44 Mercer and 50 Howard Street; our “small interventions” selectively begin to create an intertwined network. TRA was instrumental in the negotiations between the joint venture partners, obtained reconsiderations at DOB to make the project possible, provided full architectural services, including the lobby , residential units interior design, lighting design and marketing website.