Keeping His Cool pix
In designing the ultimate New York loft, Brendan Guerin never forgot the refrigerated warehouse that was there before
Otto Pohl -- Interior Design, 11/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
A raised teak floor and woven wallpaper define the entry of a New York loft by Guerin Glass Architects. In the living area beyond, a Danish 1950's chair and a vintage chrome-plated lamp flank nine woodcuts on Japanese paper by Terry Winters.
When Brendan Guerin first saw the interior of this former refrigerated warehouse, he instantly realized that part of his job was already done: The raw concrete shell would become a frame for his highly refined new design. "It's about rich materials contrasting with the industrial foundation," he says of the meticulously crafted result, a Los Angeles real-estate developer's pied-à-terre in New York. It's also about personal achievement, being the first project completed by Guerin Glass Architects, the firm that Guerin cofounded with Scott Glass, a fellow alum of Rafael Viñoly Architects.
Leaving the original ceiling and structural columns exposed, Guerin essentially designed a separate installation contained in the 2,900-square-foot space. And he emphasized the shell rather than hiding it. In the living and dining areas, the poured-concrete floor might appear industrial enough to be original, but it stops almost 1 foot short of the perimeter walls—leaving their white-painted existing concrete exposed as a reminder of the contrast between old and new.
The layering acquires still greater complexity in the parts of the apartment where Guerin built a raised floor of dark teak. In the entry, up-lights recessed in the teak bring out the slight roughness of the slate-gray woven wallpaper. Straight ahead, a jaunty orange Danish 1950's lounge chair, a shiny chrome-plated table lamp, and a portfolio of nine woodcuts on Japanese paper by Terry Winters announce the minimalist living area.
To the left of the entry, the teak floor extends into the master suite. To the right, the teak demarcates the kitchen, then wraps around to define one of the living area's seating groups as distinct from the dining area. Constructing an apartment almost entirely without walls required other subtle boundaries, too. The dining area is divided by an 8-foot-high shelving unit from a ' space that serves as both an office and a guest room, thanks to a Murphy bed that stows neatly away.
Enclosing this small corner and its adjacent bathroom with drywall would have obstructed sight lines from the kitchen to north-facing windows with a view of the Empire State Building, so Guerin used clear glass instead. For visual privacy, a yellowish-orange curtain slides across to meet a wide frosted-glass door. The door is edged by thin strips of coated bronze, blackened and rubbed. For acoustic privacy in both bedrooms, unobtrusive glass transoms extend partitions to the ceiling.
The apartment is filled with high-tech gadgetry that Guerin worked hard to hide. The low credenza that stretches across the living area holds stereo speakers, a subwoofer, and a 50-inch plasma high-definition screen that rises from the center at the touch of an infrared remote. "So this enormous thing doesn't block the art on the wall," Guerin explains.
To keep the range hood from blocking conversation between the kitchen and the living area, he chose a hood that rises from the island's marble counter. Plain cabinetry veneered in white oak conceals up-to-date appliances, while visible elements add retro touches: ' An aqua-green glass-tile backsplash would look at home in a 1950's kitchen; cylindrical pendant fixtures are more '70's.
His boldest move was to make the master bedroom and bath a single space, like a luxury suite in a high-design hotel. A massive cast-concrete tub serves as the centerpiece. "It's the kind of thing," he says, "that you can pull off when your client is a hip, young guy.