The Inverted Warehouse/Townhouse is an addition to and a renovation of a TriBeCa loft building. The existing structure is a traditional New York warehouse that covers the entire lot and provides the tough practical open space required for industry while consuming the exterior space precious to traditional domestic construction.
The urban roof plane is carved open to admit light and air into the interior public spaces. This inverts conventional townhouse configuration that places the parlor floor next to domestically scaled tree-lined streets and rear yard gardens. Three double-story volumes are excavated from the dark center of the deep warehouse floor plates to admit light and allow new construction to reinforce the upside down organization. Using industrial materials to support domestic use, tough oxidized steel construction is suspended from the rooftop parapet into the opened spaces. The voids provide structure for daily life by recovering townhouse garden uses: exterior garden, reading court, and playground.
Cor-Ten steel panels are suspended into the two upper courts and drop shingle-style in layers that step continuously inward. Frameless burgundy glass replaces some of the panels, creating openings that cascade from the top of the exterior garden down through reading court. The pattern of these glass openings appears to float downward in a spiral. At bottom of the reading court, a glass floor marks the point where the panel cuts through the floor. This dissipating energy comes to rest at the last shelf of the two-story steel shelving that descends into the playroom.
To counterbalance these descending gestures, the glass of the garden court rises delicately toward the skyline. It encloses the rear wall of the penthouse living room as it rises upward. The glass doors at the front of this room slide fully open to draw the residents onto the garden deck and into the city.
Consistent with the logic of inversion, the main entry opens onto the top floor. The elevator opens at the fifth floor to a view of the diagonally juxtaposed exterior garden and interior reading court - the point of maximum tension between ascending and descending energy. The sequences of movement reinforce this energy. The fifth floor kitchen and dining spaces are joined by a single stair that rises to the penthouse living room. The descending route to the private bedrooms, playrooms, and study crosses beneath the glass floor of the fourth-floor reading court to provide glimpses back up through the gardens to the sky.
Domesticity is suspended in the open space of industry - the tranquil landscape emits radiant energy into its host.
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