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Upper East Side Townhouse

A reconstructed Landmarked Upper East Side townhouse.

 The reinvention of a badly degraded, but significant 1879 Neo-Grec townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side negotiates and balances the building’s history and context with a desire for a forward-looking, contemporary residence. This is accomplished largely through an exceptional attention to craft, augmented by digital methods for design, coordination, and a broadly collaborative approach.

Conceived as both a family home and a setting for large-scale entertaining and events, the house is organized around multi-directional and multi-level circulation. Opportunities for light, air, and circulation to enliven the interior and exterior on the highly constrained site were developed through generous vertical openings and glazed double height spaces that emphasize the building’s grand proportions and create visual and spatial connections between floors.

The machine-produced decoration and crisp, incised ornamental surfaces that are characteristic of the Neo-Grec style were projected forward to a contemporary context, informing current and forward-looking processes of making like computer controlled milling and other contemporary manufacturing methods.

Throughout the house, works of design by emerging and independent American designers and studios is integrated with significant works of modernist design from Italy, Scandinavia, and the United States. Much of the contemporary furniture was custom designed for the house primarily through designer commissions, including a number of custom pieces by MKCA. 

 

Kitchen

Kitchen

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We created a continuous light pocket between the sculptural stair and vertical wall that repeats as the stair rises from the second level to the rooftop.

We created a continuous light pocket between the sculptural stair and vertical wall that repeats as the stair rises from the second level to the rooftop.

The main living room features continuous recessed wall slots that graze perimeter and highlight artwork. Recessed square aperture plaster-in accent lights highlight furniture groupings and artwork.

The main living room features continuous recessed wall slots that graze perimeter and highlight artwork. Recessed square aperture plaster-in accent lights highlight furniture groupings and artwork.

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MKCA Michael K Chen Architects

Location, New York City, Upper East Side

All images used with permission from Alan Tansey