The Gang's All Here pix
What do you get when designers team up with a curator and a developer? Blockparty, a model home in Brooklyn
Lisa Selin Davis -- Interior Design, 9/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
At 14 Townhouses, a Brooklyn development by Rogers Marvel Architects, the model home is called Blockparty. In the dining area, furniture and interiors affiliate Truck Product Architecture installed Lindsey Adelman's chandeliers of nickel-plated steel with handblown globes above Sather Duke and Ruby Metzner's walnut table. Curator Elisabeth Akkerman selected the photograph by Christoph Morlinghaus.
A second Morlinghaus photograph faces a series of ceramic sculptures by Yoko Inoue, arranged on the dining table.
In the kitchen, cowhide-covered walnut stools by Palo Samko pull up to the basalt-topped island, which displays a rubber-mesh bowl by Elodie Blanchard; the cabinetry is clad in plastic laminate.
The dining area's chairs, with their painted-canvas slipcovers, are by Portia Wells.
A wicker rocking chair by Tony Whitfield and a tissue-paper silhouette by Heather Cox occupy a corner of the living area. The stair balustrade's steel supports are strung with airplane cable.
Among the furnishings in the front of the living area are a daybed and side table by David Scott, a cocktail table by Matt Hutchinson and Mark Hash, a chair and ottomon by Michael Cannamela, stools by Bill Hilgendorf, and David Weeks's floor lamp.
Five of the houses have a roof terrace.
In the rear of the living area, Amy Helfand's wool-and-silk rug anchors Duke and Metzner's chairs and side table and Douglas Fanning's cocktail table.
The brick facades are white, red, or black; photography: Ed Lederman.
In a child's room, Joshua Longo's Girl bedspread is stuffed felt.
The bed and chest, both by Andrew Thornton and Jenny Argie, sit alongside Jennifer Carpenter's bench.
A wool rug lines the hallway to the roof terrace.
Jamie Gray and Aaron Ruff designed the reclaimed-pine Goodnight Mr. B bed specifically for the master bedroom.
In the guest room, Mark Milory's charcoal drawing hangs behind Robert Shapiro's meditation chair in ebony and white oak.
On the roof terrace, a glass pedestal supports a rubber sculpture by Jian-Jun Zhang, while a stoneware sphere by Pamela Sunday and an indoor/outdoor teak mat by Ethan Ames lie directly on the concrete pavers.
|When HS Development Partners commissioned Rogers Marvel Architects to transform a block-long parking lot in Brooklyn's Boerum Hill into a row of 14 single-family residences, company president Abby Hamlin chose a rather literal name for the project: 14 Townhouses. For the model home, she got creative—and not in name alone. Blockparty, as the house is called, reinvents a tried-and-true real-estate marketing device as a showcase for local talent. RMA's furniture and interiors affiliate firm, Truck Product Architecture, joined forces with private curator Elisabeth Akkerman to organize a show that fills the house with pieces by artists and furniture designers who live or work in surrounding neighborhoods. "We're celebrating Brooklyn and offering prospective buyers a test case of how to turn a house into a home," Hamlin says.
"We thought it was important to show people how to live with art and design—and that they could afford it," adds Akkerman, whose selections range in value from $800 to $25,000. Truck's principal, Jennifer Carpenter, recalls asking the group, "How can we say something about what's happening in Brooklyn?" The team answered that question by picking through hundreds of entries and breaking the work down into two categories: handmade objects and high-quality production pieces. There are handblown chandeliers, rubber-mesh bowls, LED installations, hand-loomed wool rugs, and one-of-a-kind sculptures, produced by 67 designers and artists native to 10 different countries, from South Korea to Austria and Iceland. Some pieces are site-specific; others are readymade finds. And all, like the houses themselves, are for sale.
The houses are four or five stories, with the same number of bedrooms accompanied by four bathrooms. The model is among the houses with 4,000-square-foot interiors, listed at $2.55 million; others are 4,400 square feet, listed at $2.66 million. (So far, five have sold.) Five of the houses, the model included, come without front stoops but with a roof terrace; nine feature a full floor on top. For all the houses, RMA selected natural materials, such as oak strips for flooring and slate for fireplace surrounds. To combat a drawback of traditional town houses—the fact that light can enter from only the front and back—the architects inserted a 3-by-8-foot skylight over the oak staircase, its balustrades strung with airplane cable. "The stair draws light down like a funnel," Rogers says. At the rear of each ground floor, a double-height dining area rises past the balcony of the capacious living area above. The two lower floors are almost completely open, with no enclosures besides a bathroom. "A family could feel like they're together even if they're on separate levels," Marvel says.
Parents' response to the layout has been overwhelmingly positive, Akkerman adds: "Children experience a lot of joy in this house. People can really imagine living here." And entertaining, too. Since the Bklyn Designs fair, Blockparty's kickoff, the model house has become a venue for parties, salons, and panel discussions on art and design. "It gives so much back to the creative community that you're working in. Everyone's winning," Carpenter says. On monthly open weekends, Hamlin continues, "We've had more people in to see the art and design than to see the houses alone."
And what do visitors see from the outside? The buildings are roughly the same height as their Italianate row-house neighbors and the Greek Revival versions across the street. But RMA's facades are a rugged, budget-appropriate mix of white, red, or black brick. Think of the architecture of 14 Townhouses as contextual, contemporary, and timeless, all at once.