220 East 73rd Street, 12H

$995,000

This beautiful, south-facing one bedroom plus home office is flooded with light on a prime Upper East Side block. This pre-war gem is one of the largest one bedroom layouts in the coop with an oversized bedroom, a renovated eat-in kitchen, home office, dining area, wood-burning fireplace and multiple large closets with an abundance of storage. 12H is a truly charming residence, which exemplifies Upper East Side pre-war living at its finest.

As you enter the apartment, the gracious entry hall leads into a spacious windowed eat-in kitchen. The renovated kitchen provides an abundance of cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, as well as a Miele washer/dryer. As you continue into the sun-flooded living room, a charming wood burning fireplace creates a comfortable and inviting atmosphere which also features a spacious dining area ideal for entertaining. Off of the living room, is a home office complete with double doors and built ins. The bedroom boasts large south and east facing windows, which welcome sunlight all day. The windowed modern en-suite bathroom features glass vanity and shower door and updated fixtures.

The Eastgate building, designed by Emory Roth, is a full-service co-op located on a beautiful tree-lined block between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. The classic pre-war brick facade features embellished iron double front doors. Originally constructed in 1932, this 13-story co-op features a full-time doorman, resident manager and porters, gym, storage and a common courtyard. Blocks away from outstanding New York restaurants and shops. The 6 and the new 72nd Street Q train stop are just minutes away providing easy access around the city. Pets are welcome.

For more information about this home, call me at 917.854.5069.

805 Washington Street, Unit 4

$4,500 per month / Charming and spacious two bedroom apartment located on the best block in the Meatpacking District. As you enter into the apartment you are greeted by the expansive living room and open kitchen, both flooded with light. Both bedrooms have ample custom built out closet space and the apartment features a recently renovated kitchen and bathroom, washer/dryer in unit, custom cabinetry, granite counters and stainless steel appliances.

Located in prime Meatpacking District which is flooded with amazing boutiques, great restaurants, and transportation.

For more information about this home, call me at 917.854.5069. Click here to view full details about this property.

10 of NYC’s Most Notable Landmarked Buildings

New York City is rich in history, and thanks to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, much of that history is still part of the city today. The Commission was created in 1965 through legislation signed by the late Mayor Robert F. Wagner in response to the mounting losses of historically significant buildings in New York City. Now, New York’s architecturally, historically, and culturally significant buildings are granted landmark status and protected by the Commission once they’re designated. Here are 10 of NYC’s most notable landmarked buildings:

Woolworth Building
233 Broadway
Tribeca/Financial District

When it was completed in 1913, the Woolworth Building was the tallest skyscraper in the world. It was commissioned by Frank Woolworth as the corporate headquarters for the F. W. Woolworth Company, one of the original pioneers of the five-and-dime store. The building was designed in the neo-Gothic style by the architect Cass Gilbert, who sought to create a “cathedral of commerce” for Woolworth. At the building’s base is a monumental lobby styled after a Romanesque cathedral. The building’s 792-foot steel frame was unprecedented, and required use of the day’s most extensive system of portal arch and wind bracing.  The building cost $13M to build 102 years ago, paid in all cash by Frank Woolworth.  Today, two combined units on the 29th floor are selling for just under $52M.  Visitors can book tours starting at $20.

Photo courtesy of woolworthtours.com
Photo courtesy of woolworthtours.com

Empire State Building
350 5th Ave
b/t 5th Ave and Avenue of the Americas
Midtown West

This 102-story skyscraper in Midtown is an American cultural icon as well as a New York City landmark. The Empire State Building was completed in 1931 and designed in the Art Deco style typical of pre-WWII architecture in New York City. It was the tallest building in the world until 1967, and it was the first building to have over 100 stories – both of these achievements prompted the American Society of Civil Engineers to designate the Empire State Building as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.  The building’s opening coincided with the Great Depression in the United States, and as a result much of its office space was initially unrented. The lack of renters led New Yorkers to deride the building as the “Empty State Building.” Today, the building houses 1,000 businesses and has its own ZIP code, 10118. Visitors can enjoy a birdseye view of New York from the 86th and 102nd floor observation decks.

empirestate
Photo courtesy of sbnyc.com

Brown Building (formerly the Asch Building)
23-29 Washington Place
b/t Greene Street and Washington Square East
Greenwich Village

Now a part of the New York University campus, this 10-story loft building was completed in 1901 and named for its owner, Joseph J. Asch. It was renamed the Brown Building in 1929 when real estate speculator and philanthropist Frederick Brown donated the building to NYU. On March 25, 1911, it was the site of one of the worst industrial disasters in American history, when a fire in the Triangle shirtwaist factory on the building’s top three floors resulted in the death of 146 workers. The fire led to the formation of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU), which fought for better working conditions for shirtwaist workers. The Triangle shirtwaist factory fire is seen as one of the most important catalysts in the labor rights movement in the United States, and each year the ILGWU (now UNITE) and the New York City Fire Department mark the anniversary of the fire with a memorial ceremony in front of the building.

Photo courtesy of mas.org
Photo courtesy of mas.org

The Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower
1 Hanson Place
b/t Ashland Place and St. Felix Street
Downtown Brooklyn

Built in 1927-1929 as the new headquarters for the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, 1 Hanson Place was once the tallest building in the borough at 37 stories and 512 feet tall. The building features a gilded copper dome and a marble banking hall on the ground floor with 63-foot vaulted ceilings, 40-foot windows, and elaborate mosaics. It is among the tallest four-sided clock towers in the world, and the clock faces, 17 feet in diameter, were the world’s largest when they were installed. The building has since been surpassed in height by the Brooklyner, and now houses over 200 high-end residences. The commercial space is now occupied by Noyack Medical Partners since its purchase in 2008, and the clock tower is home to an event space called Skylight One Hanson.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Flatiron Building
175 5th Ave
at Broadway
Flatiron

Designed by the Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, known for his skyscrapers, this steel-framed terra-cotta and stone-clad skyscraper was an attempt by developers to create a new business center north of Wall Street. The building’s triangular plan was a clever response to the awkward site produced by the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Originally named the Fuller Building, but was later renamed for its distinctive shape. The neighborhood around it is called the Flatiron District after this signature building, which mainly houses publishing businesses in addition to a few shops on the ground floor.

Photo courtesy of Flickr
Photo courtesy of Flickr

Chrysler Building
405 Lexington Ave
at 43rd Street
Midtown East

This Art-Deco style skyscraper, built in 1928-30, was the tallest building in the world for 11 months. Walter Chrysler of the Chrysler corporation bought the project when it was still in construction and had architect William Van Alen add decorative features inspired by Chrysler’s automobile designs including metal hubcaps, gargoyles in the form of radiator caps, car fenders and hood ornaments. The 185-foot spire at the top of the building was added to beat out competitors who were trying to build the world’s tallest building. The spire was delivered in secret to the site and erected in a mere 90 minutes. However, the Empire State Building surpassed the Chrysler Building in height only 11 months later. The Cloud Club, a private dining club, was once housed inside the 66th-68th floors. The 71st floor was home to a visitor center which offered outstanding skyline views, as well as a display with Chrysler’s first tool kit. Today, visitors can see the building from the outside, as well as visit the lobby to examine the Art deco details and beautiful ceiling mural by Edward Trumbull.

Photo courtesy of dguides.com
Photo courtesy of dguides.com

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 5th Ave
b/t 88th and 89th Streets
Upper East Side

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, this cylindrical building houses a collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art. Built between 1956 and 1959, the Guggenheim launched a new trend in museum architecture, where the building is a central part of the museum-going experience. Some worried that the unique ramp gallery, extending up from ground level in a long, continuous spiral, would overpower the art within the museum, but instead it creates an uninterrupted experience for museum goers. Admission to the museum is $16, except for Saturday evenings, when visitors can pay what they wish.

Photo courtesy of guggenheim.org
Photo courtesy of guggenheim.org

Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Borough Hall was originally built as Brooklyn’s City Hall in 1846-51, and contained the offices of the Mayor and the City Council a courtroom, and a jail. It served as the Brooklyn City Hall for nearly fifty years, before the consolidation with New York City in 1898, when it became the Brooklyn Borough Hall. The structure was built in the Greek Revival style and constructed of Tuckahoe marble. The monumental staircase serves as a backdrop for press conferences and film shoots, and the former courtroom is used as a set on shows like Law & Order. The cast-iron cupola, designed by Vincent Griffith and Stoughton & Stoughton, is an 1898 replacement for the original, which burned in an 1895 fire that also destroyed part of the interior. The statue of Justice, part of the original plan, was finally installed on top of the cupola in 1988. Today, Brooklyn Borough Hall houses the Brooklyn Borough President and is Brooklyn’s oldest public building.

Photo courtesy of  central-nyc.com
Photo courtesy of central-nyc.com

The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine

1047 Amsterdam Ave
b/t 111th & 112th Streets
Morningside Heights

Designed in 1888 and 1892, the Cathedral has undergone three stylistic changes and the interruption of two World Wars. The Cathedral was constructed in roughly three phases, proceeding from east to west, which accounts for the radical stylistic changes it has undergone. After a large fire on December 18, 2001, it was closed for repairs and reopened in November 2008. Even though the Cathedral is more than 120 years old, it remains unfinished. Despite incomplete construction, it is the largest cathedral in the world, making it a global landmark. References to Saint John the Divine are abundant in the Cathedral, from the seven chapels to the ratios of the structure itself (John is credited as the author of the Book of Revelation, in which the number seven is the most prominent symbol). The Cathedral is an active house of worship and open to visitors daily.

Photo courtesy of stjohndivine.org
Photo courtesy of stjohndivine.org

Federal Hall
26 Wall St
b/t Broad St & Nassau St
Financial District

Built in 1700 as New York’s City Hall, 26 Wall Street hosted the Stamp Act Congress, which assembled in October 1765 to protest “taxation without representation.” When the Constitution was ratified in 1788, New York remained the national capital. The First Congress met here and wrote the Bill of Rights, and George Washington was inaugurated here as the first President of the United States on April 30, 1789. When the capital moved to Philadelphia in 1790, the building again housed city government until 1812, when Federal Hall was demolished. The current structure on the site was built as a Customs House, opening in 1842. In 1862, Customs moved to 55 Wall Street, and the building became the US Sub-Treasury. Federal Hall is now operated by the National Park Service as a national memorial, commemorating our first President and the beginnings of the United States of America. Admission to Federal Hall is free, and visitors can take guided indoor tours.

Photo courtesy of nycgo.com
Photo courtesy of nycgo.com

Closed / 2 BR Condo at The Gretsch in Williamsburg

I am pleased to announce my recent closing of a 1200SF two bedroom loft with 13 foot ceilings and great views of Brooklyn at the full service condominium, The Gretsch at 60 Broadway.  If you are interested in buying, renting, or listing your home, please contact me at 917-854-5069 or at jdicondina@townrealestate.com.

For more details about this listing, please click here.

Where to Unwind: Bathhouses Around NYC

Living in New York can be stressful, so it’s important to take time to unwind every so often. One of my favorite ways to relax is to spend the day at a banya, or Russian bathhouse. Aside from being incredibly relaxing, banya are believed to promote health by ridding the body of toxins and improving blood circulation. Russian bathhouses in NYC often offer platska, a traditional Russian massage with venik (a bundle of dried branches) along with Swedish massages and other services. Here are some of my favorites:

Aire Ancient Baths
88 Franklin St
New York, NY 10013
b/t Avenue Of The Americas & Church St
TriBeCa

Situated in a former textile factory, Aire Ancient Baths opened in 2012. While the baths aren’t quite as hot as a true Russian banya, Aire offers a more upscale experience including an aromatherapy steam room, private baths infused with oils, and heated marble benches for resting between treatments. Admission packages start at $85 for bath + aromatherapy treatments, but there are discounted rates available for weekdays.

Photo courtesy of Vogue.com
Photo courtesy of Vogue.com

 

Wall Street Bath and Spa
88 Fulton St
New York, NY 10038
b/t William St & Gold St
Financial District

This underground bath house features a classic Russian sauna, an American shvitz (where you can use ice cold water inside the sauna to cool off), an infrared sauna, a eucalyptus steam room, resting areas, and a private VIP suite. Aside from the cold plunge pool, jacuzzi, and swimming pool, Wall Street Bath and Spa has a juice bar, restaurant, and cigar lounge. Platza treatments, body scrubs and wraps, and massages are available as well. Admission is $40 and massages start at $50.

Photo courtesy of Yelp
Photo courtesy of Yelp

Russian & Turkish Baths
268 E 10th St
New York, NY 10009
b/t 1st Ave & Avenue A
East Village, Alphabet City

The conveniently-located Russian & Turkish Baths features a Russian sauna with 20,000 pounds of rock which is cooked overnight and gives off intense heat during the day. You can also enjoy the aromatherapy room, cherry-wood sauna, Turkish room, and rooftop deck. Once you’ve had enough of the heat you can take a plunge in the 46-degree pool. In addition to Russian massages, the spa offers Swedish, deep-tissue, and sports massages, along with dead sea salt scrubs. Admission is $35 and massages start at $55. There are dedicated women-only and men-only hours – you can check the schedule on the Russian & Turkish Baths website.

Photo courtesy of Yelp
Photo courtesy of Yelp

Mermaid Spa
3701-11 Mermaid Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11224
Sea Gate

Mermaid Spa, located in the Sea Gate neighborhood of Brooklyn, has three Russian steam rooms, a dry Sauna and cold plunge, and a restaurant serving up authentic Russian dishes. Massage services include traditional Russian massage with soap or venik, Swedish, and deep-tissue massage. The spa is located just a 5-minute walk to the beach at Coney Island, making this the perfect stop for a day of spring or summer relaxation. Admission for adults is $40 and massages start at $90. The spa website offers bundle deals and promotions.

Photo courtesy of Seagatebaths.com
Photo courtesy of Seagatebaths.com

Russian Baths of Brooklyn
1200 Gravesend Neck Rd
Brooklyn, NY 11229
Sheepshead Bay

The main hall of Russian Baths of Brooklyn contains a full-size swimming pool with 3 saunas off to the side. The Russian sauna is the most popular room, followed by the Turkish Steam Room. The third sauna is a men’s bath house. The sundeck has plenty of lounge chairs and free WiFi, and is the perfect place to unwind after a black mud treatment, dead sea salt scrub, or massage. Admission for adults is $40, and massages start at $60.

Photo courtesy of Yelp
Photo courtesy of Yelp

Brooklyn Banya
602 Coney Island Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11218
b/t Matthews Ct & Lewis Pl
Kensington, Flatbush

Brooklyn Banya is a self-described “no-frills” bath house with a sauna, steam room, tepid pool, jacuzzi, sundeck, and restaurant. You can buy venik at the front desk for $15, and sundeck access must be purchased separately. The restaurant menu includes pickle plates, borscht, homemade dumplings, and a rotating series of specials. Treatments include massage, platska, and various body scrubs. A day pass is $35, and massage services start at $45. RSVP is required, so be sure to call ahead.

bkbanya
Photo courtesy of Yelp

Forest Hills Spa
59-21 Calloway St
Queens, NY 11368
Forest Hills/Corona

The Forest Hills Spa features a rich woody décor, red wood locker rooms, a huge swimming pool, a 12-person jacuzzi, a refreshing cold plunge, a Russian hot (shvitz) sauna and Finn dry heat cedar sauna, an aromatherapy steam room, and modern rain showers. Guests can relax in the pool area or rent a VIP room. Platza, dead sea salt scrub, black mud, and body wash treatments are available. The food corner serves European and Asian food, wine and beer, and features a juice bar where you can make your own freshly-squeezed juice. Admission is $30 for adults and massages start at $45.

Photo courtesy of Foresthillsspa.com
Photo courtesy of Foresthillsspa.com

Sandoony USA
1158 McDonald Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11230
b/t Avenue J & Avenue I
Borough Park

Sandoony’s sauna rooms are divided into two Russian Style Wet Saunas, one Finnish Style Dry Sauna, and a tiled Turkish Hammam Sauna. The sauna rooms surround the cold plunge pool, jacuzzi, and main swimming pool area, making it convenient to dive right into refreshing cool water after a nice steam. You can order food by the pool or eat at the restaurant, and massages and platza treatments are available. Admission is $30 for adults – tickets can only be purchased in person at the spa at this time.

Photo courtesy of Sandoonyusa.com
Photo courtesy of Sandoonyusa.com

Q&A with Mike House from raad studio

Over the last year, I have been working closely with Mike House, Architectural Designer & Partner at raad studio in NYC.  If you are a Curbed reader like I am, you have likely seen this week’s press about his studio’s upcoming hotel in Williamsburg.  I sat down with Mike for a Q&A and learned some interesting things about him, including his past as a squatter (homesteader) in an East Village building (and how he was able to buy the building along with his fellow homesteaders), his involvement in the world’s first underground park, The Lowline, and his recommendations for creating a healthier, more sustainable environment in our current homes.

You graduated PRATT less than 5 years ago and you are already a partner at raad studio.  Tell us about your path to where you are today.

raad studio was started by my partner, James Ramsey, about 10 years ago. I joined four years ago, right out of school, as an entry level person.  Very quickly my work style meshed with James’ style and I was promoted to partner last year.  I now work in collaboration with partners James Ramsey and Kibum Park, who is also a design director.  I feel very lucky that I was able to find such a great fit right out of school.

In this warm yet ultra-modern kitchen, the brick honeycomb wall serves as wine storage. A shark skeleton floats above the dining table.
In this warm yet ultra-modern kitchen, the brick honeycomb wall serves as wine storage. A shark skeleton floats above the dining table.

How old are you?

32

You were involved in the homesteader movement, which some people call squatting. What was that like?

There is a long history of homesteading in the Lower East Side.  It all started in the 70s when there were hundreds of vacant and city-owned properties that people would move into. I grew up in NYC and got involved with homesteading in high school. At the time, Giuliani was trying to liquidate all city-owned assets as a way of raising money for the city, so hundreds of properties were being transitioned by the office of Housing and Preservation Development to private ownership. As part of that deal, we teamed up with a non-profit developer named The Urban Homesteading Assistance Board and they were able to broker a deal where we renovated the buildings and brought them up to code, and then the title was transferred to us. Now we run them as regular coops.

My fellow homesteaders installing a staircase to bring the building up to code. Photo Credit: Ash Thayer

My idea of “squatters” has always been one of junkies living in abandoned buildings, but that doesn’t at all sound like the case here?

There are definitely those types of squatters out there but the world that I came from is much closer to the European model of squatting and we call it homesteading because it’s not about finding a place to crash for free, it’s more about a community-minded way of living, a collective way of living. There is a rich history of organized homesteading in Germany, London, Amsterdam, Spain and many other countries. These highly organized collectives wherein people would band together and all contribute collective energy and resources to establish alternative ways to inhabit the city were a huge influence on our movement.

You were a teenager when you did this. How did you know about construction to renovate the buildings?

I learned on my own. There were a lot of people who shared their skills. It was a collective living environment, very similar to the way SoHo was pioneered by artists.  People would slowly do the work using discarded materials from constructions sites.  We all learned from our neighbors while everyone pitched in. It was a very collective-minded atmosphere and that is what got me interested in design and especially in pursuing renovation.

How did your experience as a homesteader affect what you are doing today?

A lot of what I learned in the Lower East Side was about how to deal with small spaces because the buildings we lived in were tenement buildings where there were 4 apartments to a floor – very traditional early 1900 tenement buildings. That experience got me thinking about efficient ways to live in small spaces and this got me interested in pursuing architecture; I thought either I could continue doing construction work or I could pursue architecture, so I started school at 22. Now a lot of the work I do is on luxury residential developments but the same skill set applies because our clients in New York have the same types of constraints that we dealt with when I was homesteading in many ways. We had to deal with the historical context of our building, adjacency to neighbors, making the most out of tight spaces, etc.

Poetic views of corn and skyscrapers from raad's hotel at Bushwick 1, a mixed-use developmentin the heart of hip Brooklyn. The project’s cultural hub will be a vast warehouse, whose roof will be occupied by New York's largest rooftop farm.
Poetic views of corn and skyscrapers from raad’s hotel at Bushwick 1, a mixed-use developmentin the heart of hip Brooklyn. The project’s cultural hub will be a vast warehouse, whose roof will be occupied by New York’s largest rooftop farm.

raad studio is involved in some huge projects, including the historical lowline project, an ambitious passion project started by your partner, James Ramsey and his friend Dan Barasch.  raad studio is working to convert an abandoned underground trolley terminal into the world’s first underground park.  The plan is to use modern technology to harvest sunlight above-ground and direct it underground.  How is the project coming?

The project is going well. We have secured endorsements from many local politicians, community organizations, etc. Our next step will be to establish the 2nd iteration of our “Lowline Lab.” This is a large scale mockup of the solar technology we currently have under development. We will be making some exciting announcements regarding the details of this very shortly.  You can learn more about the project by watching Dan Barasch in this TED Talk.

The Lowline, located in a one-acre former trolley terminal under Delancey Street, will use proprietary solar technology to become the world's first underground park.
The Lowline, located in a one-acre former trolley terminal under Delancey Street, will use proprietary solar technology to become the world’s first underground park.

Fair enough.  Can’t wait to hear the announcements.  What are you most passionate about when it comes to community planning and sustainable architecture?

At raad studio we are trying to simplify the process of applying sustainable design and construction principles to residential renovations. To this end we really try to encourage our clients and colleagues to consider using environmentally responsible materials and methods of construction. While a lot of firms are doing this the practice hasn’t really saturated the NYC residential construction industry and especially not with smaller design firms that are primarily doing renovations. We have been thinking a lot about the small steps we can take to make some of these sustainability guidelines easier to understand for contractors and for owners and to become part of the DNA of a project. These kind of nuts and bolts details are what excite me more so than the grander gestures that are often associated with sustainable building techniques. While the construction profession, our society and our city have long had some very respectable grand ideas surrounding sustainable design it has proven difficult to put them into practice with your every day contractors and the fast paced environment we work in. For example, the other day we went through all our wall details and modified our standard details to include low formaldehyde or formaldehyde-free building products, we only use low VOC paints and construction adhesives and we are replacing our fiberglass insulation products with either low formaldehyde content batt insulation or recycled cotton insulation. It’s much easier for the workers to work with safely, contains no formaldehyde and is made of recylced denim in some cases. We are really trying to make nuts and bolts type recommendations that are easy for contractors to understand and implement. There are bigger things that you can do such as solar panels and geothermal modifications but those are very high investment moves that are not a reality for most New York City renovators.

Who are some of your role models or inspirations?

There are a few people out there doing some very interesting things where they are integrating their design practices and also doing development and construction. DDG Partners is one of them. They are four partners; a finance guy, a real estate person, an architect, and a lawyer / real estate developer. And they’ve teamed together to develop their own projects.  The type of work they are doing is really beautiful, nicely executed, and does not feel like bottom-line developer-type work. They have figured out a way for architects to have a strong voice in the direction of urban development projects. There is a little bit of a trend in the industry for architects to be not taken seriously in the development conversation because people think that we are blinded by our design values and are not financially astute, and there is probably a lot of truth to that, but these guys are doing some very interesting projects at the cross-section of design and development.

Another person on the development side who is an inspiration for me is Abby Hamlin of Hamlin Ventures.  She is another great example of a successful developer who is building high quality projects that are profitable and also great examples of how the public good can be enhanced via design and architecture. She has an urban planning degree and tries to encourage innovative uses of public space through all of her private development work.

On the art side of things I am very influenced by Gordon Matta Clark and his explorations in “anarchitecture”.  He was a young artist who studied architecture at Cornell but created his own form of architecture by cutting large holes out of floors and walls of abandoned buildings that were soon to be destroyed.

Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark/Artists Rights Society, New York
Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark/Artists Rights Society, New York

What are your design influences?

I am very influenced by high modern aesthetics starting with Frank Lloyd Wright all the way through 1960s Brutalist Architects such as Paul Rudolph and Louis Kahn. This movement has always really spoken to me; they use a lot of concrete, steel, and glass and you can see the process of construction clearly evident in the final product. The style is very true to the construction process, and structural members such as walls and columns are celebrated for what they are rather than being decorated or overly stylized. A lot of people criticize the Brutalists saying it is too cold for residential and that’s probably true for many people, so we balance this by adding warmth to our projects to make them livable and cozy. We do this in many ways, most commonly by choosing simple, pure, clean materials and geometries and then layering them plush or colorful with interior furnishings and décor to soften the hard edges.

Glimpses of the dining room and wine cellar in a restrained yet distinctive Chelsea renovation.
Glimpses of the dining room and wine cellar in a restrained yet distinctive Chelsea renovation.

What is your dream project?

I would love to renovate a classic Mies van der Rohe or Frank Lloyd Wright house. On a day to day, though, I am less interested in the type of project or building typology than I am in the constraints of a particular project, whether it’s a hotel or house or apartment or loft. Every project has a specific set of problems that need to be solved an its responding to these problems creatively that makes for a dream project.  

How are your and raad studio’s architectural solutions different from what’s happening elsewhere in NYC and the world?

I think there are a lot of people doing really amazing work in NYC and in the world. One thing that differentiates us is that we are sensitive to clients’ issues so we really get to know the client, what their living environments are, how many kids they have, whether or not they entertain, what types of environments they feel good in, what types of environments they avoid. I like to think that separates us because a lot of architects are attached to their own vision of the project and it is more about them executing their vision rather than meeting the clients’ expectations. There are other archictects who don’t have a style so there isn’t a continuous thread. We are the middle ground: we have an identifiable style which emphasizes the materiality, joinery, and detail of design. UnknownUnknown-2

What does the future of NYC architecture look like?

I’d like to see less of a boundary between architect, developer and builder. I really like this emerging type of practice where the development side is very closely intertwined with the design side. Design can play a much more powerful role in our city if developers use the power of design to really enrich people’s lives and our cities, but the only way to do that in my opinion is to blur that boundary and to lay the designers on the same plane as the developers. I’d love to see that. The future of NY is going to be all about affordable housing and the response to changing climate conditions. We are seeing De Blasio roll out a lot of affordable housing. We are starting to see an apex in terms of very very high end apartments and I think there is a lot of room in the middle and low ends of the market for a lot of interesting design. There are some interesting projects out there such as the Sugar Hill project in Harlem, which is an interesting affordable housing development.

What publications do you read or recommend for learning about the latest architecture trends?

  • DWELL really speaks to the residential modern aesthetic
  • I enjoy the design content in NYTimes
  • NYMag design content is great
  • Elle Décor is good for interiors

Generally, I enjoy well respected non-design publications that happen to be covering design because they have a more objective point of view and they’re not required to constantly churn out articles about design.  

Is there anything you recommend that we non-architects do in our homes to create a more sustainable environment on a small scale?

Integrating some of these increasingly accessible materials into our homes in terms of air quality and their impact on our health and our environment is a great start. Homeowners should consider the following:

  • low VOC paint finishes
  • water based floor stains
  • sourcing material from local sources e.g. The Northeastern US may not be well known for quarry’s or natural stone but we produce incredible slate up in New England. We don’t have to get all of our stone products from Italy, Turkey or Brazil.
  • having environmentally friendly cleaning products, especially in homes with small children.
  • humidifiers and air filters are a great way to increase indoor air quality
  • water quality in NY is good but there are tons of water filters that will hook up to your sink and take out even trace bacteria.

These are all great tips, Mike, thank you so much for your time.

raad studio is located at 5 White Street in Tribeca.  To work with Mike and his team please email info@raadstudio.com or call (212) 254-5490.

Ice skating in NYC!

As many of you know, I have been playing ice and roller hockey for years, however you don’t have to be a hockey player to enjoy ice skating. In Manhattan, ice skating has been a popular sport since the mid 1800s when there were very few residents north of 23rd Street. Shortly after the Central Park lake was filled in 1858, the first uptown skating rink was opened and everyone, rich and poor alike, came out in droves to enjoy the ice. When the ice thickened to four inches, a red flag was hung to signal that the ice was suitable for skating, and downtown trollies hoisted a red ball high on their poles to signal favorable skating conditions. This great January Curbed article by urban historian, Rebecca Dalzell gives a rich history of NYC ice skating and says that the skating rink was the only place single men and women could go without a chaperone to find a potential match. ladiesskate1-thumb

At the time, it was a racy sight to see a glimpse of a woman’s ankle or foot as she put on her ice skates. I wonder what those skaters would think of Paper Magazine today.

Times have changed but skating is still a fun winter pastime and there are now many more options for skating in NYC. Below is a list of all currently operating NYC ice skating rinks. Click on the link for details about each ice skating rink.

Open through February

The Standard Ice Rink

South Street Seaport Rink

The Rink at Winter Village in Bryant Park (closes March 1)

Open through March

Riverbank State Park Ice Skating Rink

Abe Stark Arena

WWII Veterans War Memorial Ice Skating Rink, Staten Island

The Rink at Brookfield Place

Lasker Rink

Lakeside Prospect Park

Open through April

The Rink at Rockefeller Center

Wollman Rink in Central Park

Open All Year

Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers

City Ice Pavilion

World Ice Arena