Messana O'Rorke Architects designs a cool, commodious bathroom for a Manhattan loft.
Julia Lewis -- Interior Design, 3/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
"SPACIOUS AND SPA-LIKE " is the way that Brian Messana of Messana O'Rorke Architects (MOA) describes the bathroom that he and partner Toby O'Rorke designed for a Manhattan couple living in a recently converted West Village loft building. The original developer-supplied bathroom was conventional in design and small in size, with an ordinary combination bathtub-shower and standard-issue ceramic tile. The clients wanted a "fresh, minimal, and modern" master bathroom that would complement the loft's warm, contemporary décor. Beyond their aesthetic concerns, the couple requested a generous shower and a double vanity.
"The existing bathroom was too small to meet the clients' needs. We captured additional space by carving out a corner of the master bedroom," recalls Messana. "The floor plan developed as two offset rectangles with the shower entry at the intersection." The sink and toilet occupy the first volume, while a roomy walk-in shower constitutes the second. An existing concrete column with a steel structural cuff was sealed and integrated into the shower area to accentuate the room's 14-ft.-tall ceiling.
The architects selected the materials palette and conceived certain details to evoke the "cavernous, utilitarian" quality of old-fashioned gymnasiums. The floor and walls are clad in honed Italian limestone, which, says Messana, imparts a sense of warmth to the relatively austere room. A custom his-and-his sink is made of Corian with stainless-steel-lined drawers (in lieu of a medicine cabinet) integrated into the rectangular form. The architects first considered using teak or stainless steel for the floating sink, but ultimately chose the versatile white material for both pragmatic and aesthetic reasons. "Corian was easy to work with and has a clean look. The sink looks as if it were sculpted out of a bar of soap," says Messana. Fixtures were chosen for their utilitarian simplicity. The shower, which features twin showerheads and a low faucet for rinsing feet, has a slightly pitched floor so that water drains to one side and into a recessed stainless-steel trough.
MOA's thoughtful attention to materials and detail ultimately produced a comfortable and commodious setting for cleansing rituals. "The bathroom is quite spare," says Messana, "but not at all clinical."
The 70-sq.-ft. bathroom was designed in approximately three months and painstakingly constructed in four.